The peculiar radio galaxy 4C 35.06: A case for recurrent AGN activity?
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Reproduced with permission from Astronomy & Astrophysics, © ESO
Using observations obtained with the LOw Fequency ARray (LOFAR), the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) and archival Very Large Array (VLA) data, we have traced the radio emission to large scales in the complex source 4C 35.06 located in the core of the galaxy cluster Abell 407. At higher spatial resolution (~ 4?), the source was known to have two inner radio lobes spanning 31 kpc and a diffuse, low-brightness extension running parallel to them, offset by about 11 kpc (in projection). At 62 MHz, we detect the radio emission of this structure extending out to 210 kpc. At 1.4 GHz and intermediate spatial resolution (~ 30?), the structure appears to have a helical morphology. We have derived the characteristics of the radio spectral index across the source. We show that the source morphology is most likely the result of at least two episodes of AGN activity separated by a dormant period of around 35 Myr. The outermost regions of radio emission have a steep spectral index (a<-1), indicative of old plasma. We connect the spectral index properties of the resolved source structure with the integrated fluxdensity spectral index of 4C 35.06 and suggest an explanation for its unusual integrated flux density spectral shape (a moderately steep power law with no discernible spectral break), possibly providing a proxy for future studies of more distant radio sources through inferring their detailed spectral index properties and activity history from their integrated spectral indices. The AGN is hosted by one of the galaxies located in the cluster core of Abell 407. We propose that it is intermittently active as it moves in the dense environment in the cluster core. In this scenario, the AGN turned on sometime in the past, and has produced the helical pattern of emission, possibly a sign of jet precession/merger during that episode of activity. Using LOFAR, we can trace the relic plasma from that episode of activity out to greater distances from the core than ever before. Using the the WSRT, we detect Hâ?‰ I in absorption against the center of the radio source. The absorption profile is relatively broad (FWHM of 288 kms-1), similar to what is found in other clusters. The derived column density is NHI ~ 4 × 1020 cm-2 for a Tspin = 100 K. This detection supports the connection-already suggested for other restarted radio sources-between the presence of cold gas and restarting activity. The cold gas appears to be dominated by a blue-shifted component although the broad Hâ?‰ I profile could also include gas with different kinematics. Understanding the duty cycle of the radio emission as well as the triggering mechanism for starting (or restarting) the radio-loud activity can provide important constraints to quantify the impact of AGN feedback on galaxy evolution. The study of these mechanisms at low frequencies using morphological and spectral information promises to bring new important insights in this field.
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