The origin of X-shaped radio galaxies: clues from the Z-symmetric secondary lobes

Gopal-Krishna, ; Biermann, Peter L. ; Wiita, Paul J. (2003) The origin of X-shaped radio galaxies: clues from the Z-symmetric secondary lobes The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 594 (2). L103-L106. ISSN 0571-7248

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Existing radio images of a few X-shaped radio galaxies reveal Z-symmetric morphologies in their weaker secondary lobes that cannot be naturally explained by either the galactic merger or radio-lobe backflow scenarios, the two dominant models for these X-shaped radio sources. We show that the merger picture can explain these morphologies provided one takes into account that, prior to the coalescence of their supermassive black holes, the smaller galaxy releases significant amounts of gas into the interstellar medium of the dominant active galaxy. This rotating gas, whose angular momentum axis will typically not be aligned with the original jets, is likely to provide sufficient ram pressure at a distance ~10 kpc from the nucleus to bend the extant jets emerging from the central engine, thus producing a Z-symmetry in the pair of radio lobes. Once the two black holes have coalesced some 107 yr later, a rapid reorientation of the jets along a direction close to that of the orbital angular momentum of the swallowed galaxy relative to the primary galaxy would create the younger primary lobes of the X-shaped radio galaxy. This picture naturally explains why such sources typically have powers close to the FR I/II break. We suggest that purely Z-symmetric radio sources are often en route to coalescence and the concomitant emission of substantial gravitational radiation, while X-shaped ones have already merged and radiated.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to IOP Science.
ID Code:76565
Deposited On:04 Jan 2012 06:18
Last Modified:09 Jan 2012 04:30

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