TXS 2116-077: A Gamma-Ray Emitting Relativistic Jet Hosted in a Galaxy Merger

Paliya, Vaidehi S.; Perez, Enrique; Garcia-Benito, Ruben; Ajello, Marco; Prada, Francisco; Alberdi, Antxon; Suh, Hyewon; Chandra, C. H. Ishwara; Dominguez, Alberto; Marchesi, Stefano; Di Matteo, Tiziana; Hartmann, Dieter; Chiaberge, Marco

VL / 892 - BP / - EP /
What triggers collimated relativistic outflows or jets from the centers of galaxies remains a fundamental question in astrophysics. The merging of two galaxies has been proposed to realize the conditions to successfully launch and drive such jets into the intergalactic medium. However, evidence for the operation of this mechanism is scarce. Here we report the first unambiguous detection of an ongoing merger of a narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxy, TXS 2116-077, hosting a closely aligned, gamma-ray emitting relativistic jet with a Seyfert 2 galaxy at a separation of similar to 12 kpc, using the observations taken with the 8.2 m Subaru Telescope. Our subsequent follow-up observations with the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias, 4.2 m William Herschel Telescope, and Chandra X-ray observatory have provided what is likely to be the first glimpse of the merging environment hosting a closely aligned relativistic jet. Our finding that the jet is considerably younger than the merger demonstrates that jet activity can be triggered by galaxy mergers and that gamma-ray detected narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxies represent the beginning phase of that activity. These results also highlight the crucial role of mergers in shaping the fate of galaxies in their cosmological evolution and are consistent with recent studies focused on the host galaxy imaging of this enigmatic class of active galactic nuclei.

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