Volume 555, July 2013
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Published online||02 July 2013|
Nebular emission and the Lyman continuum photon escape fraction in CALIFA early-type galaxies⋆
Centro de Astrofísica and Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do
Porto, Rua das
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Glorieta de la Astronomía s/n Aptdo. 3004, 18080 Granada, Spain
3 GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, UMR 8111, CNRS, Université Paris Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
4 University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstrasse 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
5 Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán de Calar Alto (CSIC-MPG), C/ Jesús Durbán Remón 2-2, 4004 Almería, Spain
6 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
7 Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
8 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews, KY16 9SS, UK ( SUPA )
9 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Vía Láctea s/n, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
10 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38205, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
11 CENTRA – Centro Multidisciplinar de Astrofísica, Instituto Superior Técnico, Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal
12 Australian Astronomical Observatory, PO Box 915, North Ryde, NSW 1670, Australia
13 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
14 Departamento de Investigación Básica, CIEMAT, Avda. Complutense 40, 28040 Madrid, Spain
15 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 11 April 2013
Accepted: 2 June 2013
We use deep integral field spectroscopy data from the CALIFA survey to study the warm interstellar medium (wim) over the entire extent and optical spectral range of 32 nearby early-type galaxies (ETGs). We find that faint nebular emission is extended in all cases, and its surface brightness decreases roughly as ∝ r−α. The large standard deviation in the derived α (1.09 ± 0.67) argues against a universal power-law index for the radial drop-off of nebular emission in ETGs. Judging from the properties of their extranuclear component, our sample ETGs span a broad, continuous sequence with respect to their α, Hα equivalent width (EW) and Lyman continuum (Lyc) photon leakage fraction (plf). We propose a tentative subdivision into two groups: Type i ETGs are characterized by rather steep Hα profiles (α ≃ 1.4), comparatively large (≳1 Å), nearly radially constant EWs, and plf ≃ 0. Photoionization by post-AGB stars appears to be the main driver of extended nebular emission in these systems, with nonthermal sources being potentially important only in their nuclei. Typical properties of type ii ETGs are shallower Hα profiles (α ≃ 0.8), very low (≲0.5 Å) EWs with positive radial gradients, and a mean plf ≳ 0.7, rising to ≳0.9 in their centers. Such properties point to a low, and inwardly decreasing wim density and/or volume filling factor. We argue that, because of extensive Lyc photon leakage, emission-line luminosities and EWs are reduced in type ii ETG nuclei by at least one order of magnitude. Consequently, the line weakness of these ETGs is by itself no compelling evidence for their containing merely “weak”(sub-Eddington accreting) active galactic nuclei (AGN). In fact, Lyc photon escape, which has heretofore not been considered, may constitute a key element in understanding why many ETGs with prominent signatures of AGN activity in radio continuum and/or X-ray wavelengths show only faint emission lines and weak signatures of AGN activity in their optical spectra. The Lyc photon escape, in conjunction with dilution of nuclear EWs by line-of-sight integration through a triaxial stellar host, can systematically impede detection of AGN in gas-poor galaxy spheroids through optical emission-line spectroscopy, thereby leading to an observational bias. We further find that type i&ii ETGs differ little (≲0.4 dex) in their mean BPT line ratios, which in both cases are characteristic of LINERs and are, within their uncertainties, almost radius-independent. This potentially hints at a degeneracy of the projected, luminosity-weighted BPT ratios in the LINER regime, for the specific 3D properties of the wim and the ionizing photon field in ETGs.
Key words: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / galaxies: nuclei / galaxies: ISM
© ESO, 2013
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.