Published in The Astron. Astrophys. Rev. (1999) 9: 221-271
Summary. The aim of the present review is to give a global picture of the supergiant barred galaxy NGC 1365. This galaxy with its strong bar and prominent spiral structure displays a variety of nuclear activity and ongoing star formation.
The kinematics of the galaxy has been mapped in detail by optical long slit and Fabry-Perot observations as well as radio observations of H I and CO interstellar lines. From these observations a combined velocity field has been derived, describing the circulation of interstellar gas in the symmetry plane of the galaxy. With a gravitational potential based on near infrared photometry of the bar and the shape of the apparent rotation curve, computer simulations of the dynamics of the interstellar gas have been made with the aim to reproduce both the morphology of the interstellar matter as well as the observed velocity field. The simulations demonstrate the role of the bar and the importance of resonances between the bar rotation and the rotation of the galaxy for the formation of the spiral structure. Polarization of radio radiation reveals magnetic fields concentrated to the dust lanes along and across the bar, where they are aligned with the flow pattern of the gas, and along the spiral arms. The kinematics of the outer region of the galaxy with a fairly unique decline of the rotation curve leads to the conclusion that NGC 1365 lacks a very massive dark matter halo, which may permit the formation of a very strong bar.
The galaxy contains an active nucleus with both broad and narrow components of the permitted spectral emission lines. The nucleus is surrounded by a molecular torus, numerous star forming regions and continuum radio sources. The star forming regions are, as seen with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), resolved into a large number of super star clusters suggested to be young globular clusters. A very compact radio source, seen at high spatial resolution with the Very Large Array (VLA), has been claimed to coincide with one of the super star clusters. This compact source has a radio brightness of the order of 100 times that of the bright galactic supernova remnant Cas A and is suggested to be a so called `radio supernova'. Two other such compact radio sources, positioned in the prominent dark dust lane penetrating the nuclear region, are identified as strong infrared sources by observations with the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The cause of this infrared radiation may be dust heated by the objects that drive the radio sources.
The X-ray radiation from the nucleus is interpreted to consist of hard continuum radiation from the active nucleus itself, Fe-K line emission from a rotating disk, and thermal emission from the surrounding star burst activity. A secondary, highly variable source has been discovered close to the nuclear region. It seems to be one of the most luminous and most highly variable off-nuclear X-ray sources known.
The higher excitation optical emission lines in the nuclear region, primarily from [O III], reveal a velocity field quite different from that described by the galactic rotation. The deviating [O III] morphology and velocity field in the nuclear region is interpreted in terms of a high excitation outflow double-cone with its apex at the nucleus and symmetry axis perpendicular to the symmetry plane of the galaxy. One of the circumnuclear radio sources seems to be a one-sided jet emerging from the nucleus aligned with the cone axis. According to the model, the outward flow within the cone is accelerated and the flow velocity highest at the cone axis.
Key Words: Galaxies: active (11.01.2) - Galaxies: NGC 1365 (11.09.1) - Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics (11.11.1) - Galaxies: nuclei of (11.14.1) - Radio continuum: galaxies (13.18.1) - X-rays: galaxies (13.25.2)
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