Publication details

Digging for red nuggets: discovery of hot haloes surrounding massive, compact, relic galaxies



Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords galaxies: active; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation; X-rays: galaxies
Description We present the results of Chandra X-ray observations of the isolated, massive, compact, relic galaxies MRK 1216 and PGC 032873. Compact massive galaxies observed at z > 2, also called red nuggets, formed in quick dissipative events and later grew by dry mergers into the local giant ellipticals. Due to the stochastic nature of mergers, a few of the primordial massive galaxies avoided the mergers and remained untouched over cosmic time. We find that the hot atmosphere surrounding MRK 1216 extends far beyond the stellar population and has a 0.5-7 keV X-ray luminosity of L-X = (7.0 +/- 0.2) x 10(41) erg s(-1), which is similar to the nearby X-ray bright giant ellipticals. The hot gas has a short central cooling time of similar to 50 Myr and the galaxy has an similar to 13-Gyr-old stellar population. The presence of an X-ray atmosphere with a short nominal cooling time and the lack of young stars indicate the presence of a sustained heating source, which prevented star formation since the dissipative origin of the galaxy 13 Gyr ago. The central temperature peak and the presence of radio emission in the core of the galaxy indicate that the heating source is radio-mechanical active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback. Given that both MRK 1216 and PGC 032873 appear to have evolved in isolation, the order of magnitude difference in their current X-ray luminosity could be traced back to a difference in the ferocity of the AGN outbursts in these systems. Finally, we discuss the potential connection between the presence of hot haloes around such massive galaxies and the growth of super-/overmassive black holes via chaotic cold accretion.

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