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Near-infrared line imaging of NGC 6240 - Collision shock and nuclear starburst
van der Werf, Paul P.; Genzel, R.; Krabbe, A.; Blietz, M.; Lutz, D.; Drapatz, S.; Ward, Martin J.; Forbes, Duncan A.
AA(Max-Planck-Inst. für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München, Germany), AB(Max-Planck-Inst. für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München, Germany), AC(Max-Planck-Inst. für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München, Germany), AD(Max-Planck-Inst. für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München, Germany), AE(Max-Planck-Inst. für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München, Germany), AF(Max-Planck-Inst. für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching bei München, Germany), AG(Oxford Univ., United Kingdom), AH(Cambridge Univ. Inst. of Astronomy, United Kingdom)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 405, no. 2, p. 522-537. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Galactic Nuclei, Infrared Imagery, Interacting Galaxies, Near Infrared Radiation, Shock Wave Propagation, Star Formation, Starburst Galaxies, Hydrogen, Hydrogen Clouds, Iron, Line Spectra, Supernova Remnants, Supernovae
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High-resolution images of H2 v = 1 - 0 S(1) and forbidden Fe II 1.64 micron emission in the luminous IR galaxy NGC 6240 are presented together with velocity-resolved spectra of these lines. The luminous near-IR H2 emission observed near the nucleus is generated in a shock resulting from the merging or collision of two gas-rich disk galaxies. High-velocity wings of the H2 line profile show the presence of shocked H2 at high velocities. It is concluded that the high-velocity H2 emission originates in material entrained in and shocked by a 'superwind' created in a nuclear starburst. The forbidden Fe II emission closely follows the stellar light and radio continuum emission from the nuclei and originates in fast shocks produced by SNR resulting from a starburst in the nuclei of NGC 6240. The total SN rate in NGC 6240 is estimated to be about 2/yr based on the nonthermal radio continuum emission. The low Br-gamma flux from the galaxy indicates that the nuclei are deficient in stars more massive than about 25 solar masses.

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