The circumnuclear cold gas environments of the powerful radio galaxies 3C 236 and 4C 31.04
C. Struve and J. E. Conway
Onsala Space Observatory, 439 92 Onsala Sweden
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Accepted: 26 July 2012
We present Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) H i absorption observations of the core regions of the powerful radio galaxies 3C 236 and 4C 31.04. Broad absorption (Δv ≈ 350 km s-1) straddling the systemic velocity is detected in both sources, in each case concentrated on one side of the radio core. We argue that the observations are consistent with the presence of H i absorbing disks with r ≈ 900 pc and r ≥ 200 pc in 3C 236 and 4C 31.04 respectively - although given the limited spatial coverage of the HI absorption other interpretations cannot be ruled out. The spatially resolved absorption detected against the counter-jet of 3C 236 shows a velocity gradient with an amplitude and direction supporting a rotating disk model; in contrast only a tentative velocity gradient is seen in the 4C 31.04 data set. While on larger scales both radio galaxies show evidence for interaction and merging we find no direct evidence in either source that cold gas is in-falling onto the radio core. In 3C 236 we instead find against the core blue-shifted absorption that might be part of the fast outflow of neutral gas detected in more sensitive (but lower spatial resolution) observations. Along the main jet of 3C 236 we find clumps of high opacity H i absorption concentrated to one side of the jet. We speculate that these H i clumps may be interacting with the jet, potentially even being the cause of the misalignment of the eastern jet between kiloparsec and megaparsec scales. In addition to its broad absorption 4C 31.04 shows a narrow absorption component (FWHM = 23 km s-1) redshifted relative to the galaxy systemic velocity by 115 km s-1. This feature may be a residual sign of a recent accretion/merging event, however the absorbing gas cloud must be located ≫ 100 pc from the core.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: ISM / radio lines: galaxies / galaxies: jets / galaxies: nuclei
© ESO, 2012