Volume 503, Number 1, August III 2009
|Page(s)||73 - 86|
|Published online||23 June 2009|
Molecular gas in NUclei of GAlaxies (NUGA)*
XII. The head-on collision in NGC 1961
Observatoire de Paris, LERMA, 61 Av. de l'Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France e-mail: [francoise.combes;frederic.boone]@obspm.fr
2 Rutgers, The State University of NJ, 136 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69917 Heidelberg, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
4 Observatorio Astronómico Nacional (OAN), Observatorio de Madrid, Alfonso XII, 3, 28014 Madrid, Spain e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
6 Universität zu Köln, I. Physikalisches Institut, Zülpicher Strasse 77, 50937 Köln, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
7 Institut de Radio-Astronomie Millimétrique, 300 rue de la Piscine, 38406 St. Martin-d'Hères, France e-mail: email@example.com
8 Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Postfach 1312, 85741 Garching, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 9 June 2009
We present high-resolution maps of the CO(1–0) and CO(2–1) emission from the LINER 2 galaxy NGC 1961. This galaxy is unusual among late-type (Sc) disk galaxies in having a very large radial extent and inferred dynamical mass. We propose a head-on collision scenario to explain the perturbed morphology of this galaxy – both the off-centered rings and the inflated radius. This scenario is supported by the detection of a steep velocity gradient in the CO(1–0) map at the position of a southwest peak in radio continuum and near-infrared emission. This peak would represent the remnant of the disrupting companion. We use numerical models to demonstrate the plausibility of the scenario. While ram pressure stripping could in principle be important for shocking the atomic gas and produce the striking head-tail morphology, the non detection of this small galaxy group in X-ray emission suggests that any hot intragroup medium has too low a density. A prediction of the collision model is the propagation of ring waves from the center to the outer parts, superposed on a probable pre-existing barred spiral feature, accounting for the observed complex structure of rings and spokes. This lopsided wave accounts for the sharp boundary observed in the atomic gas on the southern side. Through dynamical friction, the collision finishes quickly in a minor merger, the best fit being for a companion with a mass ratio 1:4. We argue that NGC 1961 has a strongly warped disk, which gives the false impression of a nearly face-on system; the main disk is actually more edge-on, and this error in the true inclination has led to the surprisingly high dynamical mass for a morphologically late-type galaxy. In addition, the outwardly propagating ring artificially enlarges the disk. The collision de-stabilizes the inner disk and can provide gas inflow to the active nucleus.
Key words: galaxies: individual: NGC 1961 / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: ISM / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics / galaxies: nuclei / radio lines: galaxies
© ESO, 2009
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