Planetary Camera Imaging of the Nucleus of M51

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Session 22 -- Galaxy Structure and Kinematics
Oral presentation, Monday, 30, 1994, 2:00-3:30

[22.04] Planetary Camera Imaging of the Nucleus of M51

Carl J. Grillmair, S.M. Faber (Lick Observatory), J. Jeff Hester, Paul A. Scowen (Arizona State University), Tod R. Lauer (NOAO), and the Members of the Wide Field/Planetary Camera Investigation Definition Team

We present high-resolution, broad- and narrow-band images of the central region of M51 taken with the Planetary Camera of the {\it Hubble Space Telescope}. The $V$-band images show radial dust lanes, roughly aligned with the major axis of the bar, presumably transporting gas to the AGN in the nucleus. The dust lane obscuring the nucleus of the galaxy is more complex than has been previouly reported, being both off-center and having curved appendages extending in different directions. H$\alpha$/[NII] images show several discrete blobs of ionized gas strung along arcs extending both northwards and southwards from the nucleus, describing a leading ``S''-configuration. The forbidden-line images of the extra-nuclear cloud are consistent with a picture in which a very narrow nuclear jet strikes and splatters off of the boundary of a relatively dense cloud of gas in the disk of the galaxy. We briefly discuss the degree to which the jet appears to influence the structure of the interstellar medium surrounding the nucleus.

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