The nuclear activity and central structure of the elliptical galaxy NGC 5322 [GA]

We have analysed a new high-resolution e-MERLIN 1.5 GHz radio continuum map together with $HST$ and SDSS imaging of NGC 5322, an elliptical galaxy hosting radio jets, aiming to understand the galaxy’s central structure and its connection to the nuclear activity. We decomposed the composite $HST$ + SDSS surface brightness profile of the galaxy into an inner stellar disc, a spheroid, and an outer stellar halo. Past works showed that this embedded disc counter-rotates rapidly with respect to the spheroid. The $HST$ images reveal an edge-on nuclear dust disc across the centre, aligned along the major-axis of the galaxy and nearly perpendicular to the radio jets. After careful masking of this dust disc, we find a central stellar mass deficit $M_{\rm def}$ in the spheroid, scoured by SMBH binaries with final mass $M_{\rm BH}$ such that $M_{\rm def}/M_{\rm BH} \sim 1.3 – 3.4$. We propose a three-phase formation scenario for NGC 5322 where a few ($2-7$) “dry” major mergers involving SMBHs built the spheroid with a depleted core. The cannibalism of a gas-rich satellite subsequently creates the faint counter-rotating disc and funnels gaseous material directly onto the AGN, powering the radio core with a brightness temperature of $T_{\rm B,core} \sim 4.5 \times 10^{7}$ K and the low-power radio jets ($P_{\rm jets}\sim 7.04 \times 10^{20}$ W Hz$^{-1}$) which extend $\sim 1.6$ kpc. The outer halo can later grow via minor mergers and the accretion of tidal debris. The low-luminosity AGN/jet-driven feedback may have quenched the late-time nuclear star formation promptly, which could otherwise have replenished the depleted core.

Read this paper on arXiv…

B. Dullo, J. Knapen, D. Williams, et. al.
Fri, 12 Jan 18

Comments: 14 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS