The extended blue continuum and line emission around the Central Radio Galaxy in Abell 2597
Voit, G. Mark
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We present results from detailed imaging of the centrally dominant radio elliptical galaxy in the cooling flow cluster Abell 2597, using data obtained with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This object is one of the archetypal “blue-lobed” cooling flow radio elliptical galaxies, also displaying a luminous emission-line nebula, a compact radio source, and a significant dust lane and evidence of molecular gas in its center. We show that the radio source is surrounded by a complex network of emission-line filaments, some of which display a close spatial association with the outer boundary of the radio lobes. We present a detailed analysis of the physical properties of ionized and neutral gas associated with the radio lobes, and show that their properties are strongly suggestive of direct interactions between the radio plasma and ambient gas. We resolve the blue continuum emission into a series of knots and clumps, and present evidence that these are most likely due to regions of recent star formation. We investigate several possible triggering mechanisms for the star formation, including direct interactions with the radio source, filaments condensing from the cooling flow, or the result of an interaction with a gas-rich galaxy, which may also have been responsible for fueling the active nucleus. We propose that the properties of the source are plausibly explained in terms of accretion of gas by the cD during an interaction with a gas-rich galaxy, which combined with the fact that this object is located at the center of a dense, high-pressure ICM can account for the high rates of star formation and the strong confinement of the radio source.
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