The MURALES survey I. A dual AGN in the radio galaxy 3C 459?

Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

B. Balmaverde et al., The MURALES survey I. A dual AGN in the radio galaxy 3C 459?, A&A, 619 (2018) A83,


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© ESO 2018



We observed the FR II radio galaxy 3C 459 (z = 0.22) with the MUSE spectrograph at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) as part of the MURALES project (a MUse RAdio Loud Emission line Snapshot survey). We detected diffuse nuclear emission and a filamentary ionized gas structure forming a one-sided, triangular-shaped region extending out to ∼80 kpc. The central emission line region is dominated by two compact knots of similar flux: the first (N1) cospatial with the radio core and the (N2) second located 1″.2 (5.3 kpc) to the SE. The two regions differ dramatically from the point of view of velocity (with an offset of ∼400 km s−1), line widths, and line ratios. This suggests that we are observing a dual AGN system formed by a radio loud AGN and type 2 QSO companion, which is the result of the recent merger that also produced its disturbed host morphology. The alternative possibility that N2 is just a bright emission line knot resulting from, for example, a jet-cloud interaction, is disfavored because of (1) the presence of a high ionization bicone whose apex is located at N2; (2) the observed narrow line widths; (3) its line luminosity (∼1042 erg s−1) typical of luminous QSOs; and (4) its location, which is offset from the jet path. The putative secondary AGN must be highly obscured, since we do not detect any emission in the Chandra and infrared Hubble Space Telescope images.