AAS 197, January 2001
Session 52. Science with Adaptive Optics
Display, Tuesday, January 9, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[52.07] Adaptive optics observations of NGC 6240 at the Keck and Lick Observatories

C. E. Max (LLNL), D. Whysong (UCSB), B. A. Macintosh (LLNL), R. Antonucci (UCSB), H. Roe (UC Berkeley)

NGC 6240 is a luminous IRAS galaxy, and contains a nuclear starburst that is about 10 million years old. NGC 6240 consists of two merging disk galaxies. It is a LINER, and may host one or two active galactic nuclei. Previous studies have detected high-velocity ionized gas flowing outward in a "superwind," as well as strong molecular hydrogen and [FeII] emission. Here we report on near-IR adaptive optics imaging and spectroscopy of NGC 6240 at the Keck and Lick Observatories. The twin nuclei are clearly resolved in both images and spectra. We report on the spatial distribution and velocity structure of the molecular hydrogen emission, and its implications for potential excitation mechanisms and physical conditions in the emitting gas.

This research was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of California, under Contract W-7405-ENG-48.

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