The Unusual Morphology of the Intragroup Medium in NGC 5171

JPF Osmond, Trevor Ponman, A Finoguenov

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We present the results of a 24-ks XMM-Newton observation of the NGC5171 group of galaxies. NGC 5171 is unusual in that it is an X-ray bright group (L-X > 10(42) erg s(-1)), with irregular contours which are not centred on a bright galaxy. The global spectrum is adequately described by a single-temperature APEC model with T-X = 0.96 +/- 0.04 keV and Z = 0.13 +/- 0.02 Z(.), in good agreement with previous ROSAT data. We find that the X-ray contours are centred on a bright ridge of emission stretching from the brightest group galaxy to a nearby galaxy. Spectral mapping reveals this ridge to be both cool (T-X approximate to 1.1 keV) and metallic (Z approximate to 0.4 Z(.)) in comparison to its surroundings, suggesting it is the result of a tidal interaction between the two galaxies. Optical data reveal the member galaxies to have a high velocity dispersion ( v = 494 +/- 99 km s(-1)) and a significantly non-Gaussian velocity distribution, suggesting that the group is in the process of merging. A region of hot gas with T-X = 1.58 +/- 0.36 keV is found to the west of the bright central ridge, and we interpret this as shock-heating resulting from the merging. A further region of emission to the south-east of the bright central ridge, with T X = 1.14 +/- 0.13 keV, is probably associated with a background group, four times more distant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2004


  • galaxies : formation
  • X-rays : galaxies : clusters
  • intergalactic medium
  • galaxies : general
  • galaxies : clusters : general
  • galaxies : evolution


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