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CO(1--0) observations of the cooling flow galaxy NGC 1275 with the IRAM Interferometer

J. Braine, F. Wyrowski, S.J.E. Radford, C. Henkel, H. Lesch
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, D-53121 Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany
Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique, 300, rue de la Piscine F-38406 St. Martin d`Hères, France
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 949 N. Cherry Ave., Campus Building 65, Tucson, AZ 85721-0665, USA
Abstract: High resolution CO (J=1-0) interferometric observations are presented of NGC 1275 (3C84, Perseus A), which is the dominant galaxy of the Perseus cluster (Abell 426) and is believed to have a strong cooling flow. No CO absorption was detected towards the powerful point-like nucleus although CO emission may have been detected in an area surrounding the nucleus.

The constraints placed by these observations and existing data on the massive cooling flow scenario are examined. Contrary to some claims, the covering fraction of neutral gas has been found to be much less than unity in all cooling flows where the necessary data are available. As the cooling gas presumably forms low-mass stars or sub-stellar objects, the possibility of large masses of neutral gas escaping detection is investigated in detail. The gas, with or without dust, should not cool down to K as has been claimed but should remain K through X-ray heating at column densities up to . Greater column densities may be physically reasonable if the magnetic field is strong enough to support the cloud against fragmentation. In this case, ambipolar diffusion or magnetic slip-ion heating becomes important and should maintain the temperature . If the clouds contain dust, then although the dust radiates away most of the energy, the absorbed starlight keeps the temperature . Lack of CO or very broad lines do not appear to be feasible means of reconciling large molecular (or atomic) gas masses with the global lack of detections and tight upper limits. The primary conclusion is that the real mass inflow rates must be much lower that frequently claimed. It should then be noted that present-day cooling flows, if not so massive, lose much of their cosmological importance.

The FIR and CO emission from NGC 1275 correspond exactly to what is found in gas-rich spirals. Rather than a massive cooling flow, the gas may come from accretion of one or more gas-rich galaxies. Since, however, at least 14 other central galaxies would have been detected in CO if they contained similar quantities of gas, such events must be quite rare, very roughly if the time required for a large fraction of the gas to disappear is yr. cm

next up previous contents
Next: Accurate Radio Positions Up: Scientific Results Previous: The radial distribution

Robert Lucas
Thu Mar 9 14:24:13 MET 1995