Volume 521, October 2010
|Number of page(s)||21|
|Published online||21 October 2010|
Energetics of the molecular gas in the H2 luminous radio galaxy 3C 326: Evidence for negative AGN feedback*
Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, CNRS, Université Paris Sud, 91405 Orsay, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM), St. Martin d'Heres, France
3 LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Paris, France
4 GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Université Denis Diderot, Meudon, France
5 Spitzer Science Center, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
6 NASA Herschel Science Center, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
7 École Normale Supérieure and Observatoire de Paris, Paris, France
Accepted: 17 March 2010
We present a detailed analysis of the gas conditions in the H2 luminous radio galaxy 3C 326 N at z ~ 0.1, which has a low star-formation rate (SFR ~ 0.07 yr-1) in spite of a gas surface density similar to those in starburst galaxies. Its star-formation efficiency is likely a factor ~10–50 lower than those of ordinary star-forming galaxies. Combining new IRAM CO emission-line interferometry with existing Spitzer mid-infrared spectroscopy, we find that the luminosity ratio of CO and pure rotational H2 line emission is factors 10–100 lower than what is usually found. This suggests that most of the molecular gas is warm. The Na D absorption-line profile of 3C 326 N in the optical suggests an outflow with a terminal velocity of ~–1800 km s-1 and a mass outflow rate of 30–40 yr-1, which cannot be explained by star formation. The mechanical power implied by the wind, of order 1043 erg s-1, is comparable to the bolometric luminosity of the emission lines of ionized and molecular gas. To explain these observations, we propose a scenario where a small fraction of the mechanical energy of the radio jet is deposited in the interstellar medium of 3C 326 N, which powers the outflow, and the line emission through a mass, momentum and energy exchange between the different gas phases of the ISM. Dissipation times are of order 107-8 yrs, similar or greater than the typical jet lifetime. Small ratios of CO and PAH surface brightnesses in another 7 H2 luminous radio galaxies suggest that a similar form of AGN feedback could be lowering star-formation efficiencies in these galaxies in a similar way. The local demographics of radio-loud AGN suggests that secular gas cooling in massive early-type galaxies of ≥1011 could generally be regulated through a fundamentally similar form of “maintenance-phase” AGN feedback.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: ISM / galaxies: jets / radio continuum: galaxies / radio lines: galaxies
© ESO, 2010
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