A CO-rich merger shaping a powerful and hyperluminous infrared radio galaxy at z = 2: The Dragonfly Galaxy
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This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2015 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
In the low-redshift Universe, the most powerful radio sources are often associated with gas-rich galaxy mergers or interactions. We here present evidence for an advanced, gas-rich (‘wet’) merger associated with a powerful radio galaxy at a redshift of z ~ 2. This radio galaxy, MRC 0152-209, is the most infrared-luminous high-redshift radio galaxy known in the Southern hemisphere. Using the Australia Telescope Compact Array, we obtained high-resolution CO(1–0) data of cold molecular gas, which we complement with Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) imaging and William Herschel Telescope long-slit spectroscopy. We find that, while roughly MH2 ~ 2 × 1010 M☉ of molecular gas coincides with the central host galaxy, another MH2 ~ 3 × 1010 M☉ is spread across a total extent of ~60 kpc. Most of this widespread CO(1–0) appears to follow prominent tidal features visible in the rest-frame near-UV HST/WFPC2 imaging. Lyα emission shows an excess over He II, but a deficiency over LIR, which is likely the result of photoionization by enhanced but very obscured star formation that was triggered by the merger.In terms of feedback, the radio source is aligned with widespread CO(1–0) emission, which suggests that there is a physical link between the propagating radio jets and the presence of cold molecular gas on scales of the galaxy's halo. Its optical appearance, combined with the transformational stage at which we witness the evolution of MRC 0152-209, leads us to adopt the name ‘Dragonfly Galaxy’. A young population alone is insufficient because an evolved giant star population produces a 1-μm rest-frame peak that is observed in the IRAC photometry. This discovery confirms that many of the stellar populations in high-redshift radio galaxies were formed by massive starbursts in the early Universe. Gas-rich mergers and/or jet–cloud interactions are favoured for triggering the intense star formation necessary to explain the properties of the spectral energy distributions. The discovery of similar characteristics in two distant radio galaxies suggests that multiple stellar populations, one old and one young, may be a generic feature of the luminous infrared radio galaxy population.
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