Volume 509, January 2010
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Published online||12 January 2010|
An optical spectroscopic survey of the 3CR sample of radio galaxies with z 0.3*
II. Spectroscopic classes and accretion modes in radio-loud AGN
SISSA-ISAS, via Beirut 2-4, 34151 Trieste, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Torino, Strada Osservatorio 20, 10025 Pino Torinese, Italy
3 Department of Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology, 85 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
4 School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
5 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
6 INAF – Istituto di Radio Astronomia, via P. Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
Accepted: 29 October 2009
In a previous paper we presented a homogeneous and 92% complete optical spectral dataset of the 3CR radio sources with redshift <0.3. Here we use the emission line measurements to explore the spectroscopic properties of the sample. The 3CR sources show a bimodal distribution of excitation index, a new spectroscopic indicator that measures the relative intensity of low and high excitation lines. This unveils the presence of two main sub-populations of radio-loud AGN to which we refer to, following previous studies, as high and low excitation galaxies (HEG and LEG, respectively). In addition to the two main classes, we find one source with a spectrum typical of star forming galaxies, and 3 objects of extremely low level of excitation. All broad-line objects are HEG from the point of view of their narrow emission line ratios and all HEG are FR II radio-galaxies with log [ erg s-1] 32.8. Conversely LEG cover the whole range of radio power encompassed by this 3CR subsample (30.7 log 35.4) and they are of both FR I and FR II type. The brightest LEG are all FR II. HEG and LEG obey to two (quasi) linear correlations between the optical line and extended radio luminosities, with HEG being brighter than LEG in the [O III] line by a factor of ~10. HEG and LEG are offset also in a plane that compares the black hole mass and the ionizing nuclear luminosity. However, although HEG are associated with higher nuclear luminosities, we find LEG among the brightest radio sources of the sample and with a clear FR II morphology, indistinguishable from those seen in HEG. This suggests that LEG are not simply objects with a lower level of accretion. We speculate that the differences between LEG and HEG are related to a different mode of accretion: LEG are powered by hot gas, while HEG require the presence of cold accreting material. The high temperature of the accreting gas in LEG accounts for the lack of “cold” structures (i.e. molecular torus and broad line region), for the reduced radiative output of the accretion disk, and for the lower gas excitation.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: jets / galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
© ESO, 2010
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