George Mason University, Department of Physics & Astronomy, MS 3F3, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
2 Presidential Career Award Scientist
3 George Mason University, School of Computational Sciences, MS 5C3, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
Corresponding author: S. Satyapal, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 8 August 2003
We present a comprehensive comparative high resolution mid-IR spectroscopic and X-ray imaging investigation of LINERs using archival observations from the ISO-SWS and the Chandra Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer. Although the sample is heterogenous and incomplete, this is the first comprehensive study of the mid-infrared fine structure line emission of LINERs. These results have been compared with similar observations of starburst galaxies and AGN. We find that LINERs very clearly fall between starbursts and AGN in their mid-IR fine structure line spectra, showing /LFIR and / ratios, both measures of the dominant nuclear energy source in dust-enshrouded galaxies, intermediate between those of AGN and starbursts. Chandra imaging observations of the LINERs reveal hard nuclear point sources morphologically consistent with AGN in most (67%) of the sample, with a clear trend with IR-brightness. Most LINERs that show a single dominant hard compact X-ray core are IR-faint (LFIR/), whereas most LINERs that show scattered X-ray sources are IR-bright. A comparative X-ray/mid-IR spectroscopic investigation of LINERs reveals some puzzling results. Objects that display strong hard nuclear X-ray cores should also display high excitation lines in the IR. However, we find two LINERs disagree with this expectation. The galaxy NGC 404 shows weak soft X-ray emission consistent with a starburst but has the most prominent highest excitation mid-IR spectrum of our entire sample. Using IR emission line diagnostics alone, this galaxy would be classified as hosting a dominant AGN. Conversely, the IR luminous LINER NGC 6240 has an extremely luminous binary AGN as revealed by the X-rays but shows weak IR emission lines. With the advent of SIRTF, and future IR missions such as Herschel and JWST, it is increasingly critical to determine the origin of these multiwavelength anomalies.
Key words: galaxies: starburst / X-rays: galaxies / infared: galaxies
© ESO, 2004