High-resolution HNC 3-2 SMA observations of Arp220

Aalto, S.
Wilner, D.
Spaans, M.
Wiedner, M. C.
Sakamoto, K.
Black, J. H.
Caldas, M.
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We present high resolution (0."4) observations of HNC J=3-2 with the SubMillimeter Array (SMA). We find luminous HNC 3-2 line emission in the western part of Arp220, centered on the western nucleus, while the eastern side of the merger shows relatively faint emission. A bright (36 K), narrow (60 km/s) emission feature emerges from the western nucleus, superposed on a broader spectral component. A possible explanation is weak maser emission through line-of-sight amplification of the background continuum source. There is also a more extended HNC 3-2 emission feature north and south of the nucleus. This feature resembles the bipolar OH maser morphology around the western nucleus. Substantial HNC abundances are required to explain the bright line emission from this warm environment. We discuss this briefly in the context of an X-ray chemistry and radiative excitation. We conclude that the luminous and possibly amplified HNC emission of the western nucleus of the Arp220 merger reflects the unusual, and perhaps transient, environment of the starburst/AGN activity there. The faint HNC line emission towards Arp220-east reveals a real difference in physical conditions between the two merger nuclei.
Comment: 7 pages, 6 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics