Journal Article

Spatially resolved optical integral field unit spectroscopy of the inner superwind of NGC 253*

M. S. Westmoquette, L. J. Smith and J. S. Gallagher

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 414, issue 4, pages 3719-3739
Published in print July 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Spatially resolved optical integral field unit spectroscopy of the inner superwind of NGC 253*

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We present optical integral field unit (IFU) observations (VLT/VIMOS-IFU and WIYN/SparsePak), and associated archival deep Hα imaging (MPG/ESO 2.2 m WFI), of the nearby starburst galaxy NGC 253. With VIMOS we observed the nuclear region and southern superwind outflow in detail with five pointings, and with the WIYN/SparsePak IFU we observed two partially overlapping regions covering the central disc and northern halo. The high signal-to-noise ratio of the data and spectral resolution (80–90 km s−1) enable us to accurately decompose the emission line profiles into multiple components.

The combination of these data sets, together with the wealth of information on NGC 253 available in the literature, allows us to study the starburst-driven superwind in great detail. We investigate the known minor axis outflow cone, which is well-defined in the Hα imaging and kinematics between radii of 280 and 660 pc from the nucleus. Kinematic modelling indicates a wide opening angle (∼60°), an inclination consistent with that of the disc and deprojected outflow speeds of a few 100 km s−1 that increase with distance above the plane. The [N ii]/Hα and [S ii]/Hα line ratio maps imply that a significant fraction of the wind optical emission lines arise from shocked gas, with localized pockets/filaments of strongly shocked gas. From the kinematics, the cone appears partially closed in at least one place, and very broad Hα linewidths (>400 km s−1 full width at half maximum) suggest there is material filling the cone in some regions. Extrapolation of the cone to its apex shows it is not centred on the starburst nucleus, suggesting the wind is deflected and collimated by the dense circumnuclear material. We discuss the implications of these findings on our understanding of the origins and evolution of the superwind. No evidence for an outflow is found on the north-western side of the disc out to >2 kpc in our optical data, due to obscuration by the foreground disc. The lack of an obvious connection between the inner (r < 1 kpc) Hα and X-ray bright outflow cone and the large-scale (r≲ 10 kpc) X-ray ‘horns’ is also discussed.

Keywords: ISM: jets and outflows; ISM: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: individual: NGC 253; galaxies: ISM; galaxies: starburst

Journal Article.  13105 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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