AAS 197, January 2001
Session 20. Galaxy Formation and Chemical Evolution
Oral, Monday, January 8, 2001, 10:30am-12:00noon, San Diego

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[20.03] Imaging Radio Galaxies with Adaptive Optics

W. H. de Vries, W. J. M. van Breugel (LLNL/IGPP), A. Quirrenbach, J. Roberts, K. Fidkowski (UC San Diego)

We present 42 milli-arcsecond resolution Adaptive Optics near-infrared images of 3C 452 and 3C 294, two powerful radio galaxies at z=0.081 and z=1.79 respectively, obtained with the NIRSPEC/SCAM+AO instrument on the Keck telescope. The observations provide unprecedented morphological detail of radio galaxy components like nuclear dust-lanes, off-centered or binary nuclei, and merger induced starforming structures; all of which are key features in understanding galaxy formation and the onset of powerful radio emission. Complementary optical HST imaging data are used to construct high resolution color images, which, for the first time, have matching optical and near-IR resolutions. Based on these maps, the extra-nuclear structural morphologies and compositions of both galaxies are discussed. Furthermore, detailed brightness profile analysis of 3C 452 allows a direct comparison to a large literature sample of nearby ellipticals, all of which have been observed in the optical and near-IR by HST. Both the imaging data and the profile information on 3C 452 are consistent with it being a relative diminutive and well-evolved elliptical, in stark contrast to 3C 294 which seems to be in its initial formation throes with an active AGN off-centered from the main body of the galaxy. These results are discussed further within the framework of radio galaxy triggering and the formation of massive ellipticals.

The work of WdV and WvB was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under contract No. W-7405-Eng-48. The work at UCSD has been supported by the NSF Science and Technology Center for Adaptive Optics, under agreement No. AST-98-76783.

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