Disentangling the Circumnuclear Environs of Centaurus A. III. An Inner Molecular Ring, Nuclear Shocks, and the CO to Warm H-2 Interface
Journal article, 2017
We present the distribution and kinematics of the molecular gas in the circumnuclear disk (CND; 400 pc ×200 pc) of Centaurus A with resolutions of ∼5 pc (0.″3) and shed light onto the mechanism feeding the active galactic nucleus (AGN) using CO(3-2), HCO + (4-3), HCN(4-3), and CO(6-5) observations obtained with ALMA. Multiple filaments or streamers of tens to a hundred parsec scale exist within the CND, which form a ring-like structure with an unprojected diameter of 9″ ×6″ (162 pc ×108 pc) and a position angle P.A. ≃ 155°. Inside the nuclear ring, there are two leading and straight filamentary structures with lengths of about 30-60 pc at P.A. ≃ 120° on opposite sides of the AGN, with a rotational symmetry of 180° and steeper position-velocity diagrams, which are interpreted as nuclear shocks due to non-circular motions. Along the filaments, and unlike other nearby AGNs, several dense molecular clumps present low HCN/HCO + (4-3) ratios (≲0.5). The filaments abruptly end in the probed transitions at r ≃ 20 pc from the AGN, but previous near-IR H 2 (J = 1-0)S(1) maps show that they continue in an even warmer gas phase (T ∼ 1000 K), winding up in the form of nuclear spirals, and forming an inner ring structure with another set of symmetric filaments along the N-S direction and within r ≃ 10 pc. The molecular gas is governed primarily by non-circular motions, being the successive shock fronts at different scales where loss of angular momentum occurs, a mechanism that may feed efficiently powerful radio galaxies down to parsec scales.
galaxies: elliptical and lenticular
galaxies: individual (NGC 5128)