AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 42 Quasars and Active Galaxies
Poster, Wednesday, May 28, 2003, 10:00am-6:45pm, West Exhibit Hall

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[42.20] A Possible Merging Companion to Cygnus A

G. Canalizo (LLNL), C. E. Max (LLNL and UCSC), D. Whysong, R. Antonucci (UCSB), S. E. Dahm (U.Hawaii), M. Lacy (Caltech)

Different lines of evidence indicate that the powerful FR II radio galaxy Cygnus A harbors a heavily extincted quasar. However, until now, no direct evidence has been found indicating that the nuclear activity may have been triggered by a strong interaction or merger. We recently obtained Keck adaptive optics imaging and spectroscopic observations of the core of Cygnus A of unprecedented resolution and depth. These images show a secondary point source 400 pc away from the radio nucleus. The colors and near infrared spectra of this object rule out the possibility that it may be a foreground star. We discuss the possibility that the object may instead be the dense, gas stripped core of a low luminosity merging galaxy that has thus far survived the merger with the giant elliptical host to Cygnus A.

This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration by the University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under contract No. W-7405-Eng-48

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.