Volume 519, September 2010
|Number of page(s)||4|
|Published online||15 September 2010|
Letter to the Editor
Serendipitous discovery of the long-sought active galactic nucleus in Arp 299-A
Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, PO Box 3004, 18008 Granada, Spain e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 INAF – Istituto di Radioastronomia, via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
Accepted: 12 August 2010
Context. The dusty nuclear regions of luminous infra-red galaxies (LIRGs) are heated by either an intense burst of massive star formation, an active galactic nucleus (AGN), or a combination of both. Disentangling the contribution of each of those putative dust-heating agents is a challenging task, and direct imaging of the innermost few pc can only be accomplished at radio wavelengths, using very high-angular resolution observations.
Aims. We observed the nucleus A of the interacting starburst galaxy Arp 299, using very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) radio observations at 1.7 and 5.0 GHz. Our aim was to characterize the compact sources in the innermost few pc region of Arp 299-A, as well as to detect recently exploded core-collapse supernovae.
Methods. We used the European VLBI Network (EVN) to image the 1.7 and 5.0 GHz compact radio emission of the parsec-scale structure in the nucleus of Arp 299-A with milliarcsecond resolution.
Results. Our EVN observations show that one of the compact VLBI sources, A1, previously detected at 5.0 GHz, has a flat spectrum between 1.7 and 5.0 GHz and is the brightest source at both frequencies. Our 1.7 GHz EVN image shows also diffuse, low-surface brightness emission extending westwards from A1 and displays a prominent core-jet structure.
Conclusions. The morphology, radio luminosity, spectral index and ratio of radio-to-X-ray emission of the A1–A5 region is consistent with a low-luminosity AGN (LLAGN), and rules out the possibility that it is a chain of young radio supernovae (RSNe) and supernova remnants (SNRs). We therefore conclude that A1–A5 is the long-sought AGN in Arp 299-A. This finding may suggest that both starburst and AGN are frequently associated phenomena in mergers.
Key words: galaxies: starburst / Galaxy: nucleus / radio continuum: stars / galaxies: individual: Arp 299 / radio continuum: stars / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
© ESO, 2010
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