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RE: NGC 3621
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Hubble View of a Special Spiral Galaxy

The image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows part of NGC 3621, an unusual spiral galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Water Snake).
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Title: Gas Metallicities in the Extended Disks of NGC 1512 and NGC 3621. Chemical Signatures of Metal Mixing or Enriched Gas Accretion?
Authors: Fabio Bresolin (IfA, University of Hawaii), Robert C. Kennicutt (IoA, University of Cambridge), Emma Ryan-Weber (Swinburne University)

We have obtained spectra of 135 HII regions located in the inner and extended disks of the spiral galaxies NGC 1512 and NGC 3621, spanning the range of galactocentric distances 0.2-2 x R25 (from 2-3 kpc to 18-25 kpc). We find that the excitation properties of nebulae in the outer (R>R25) disks are similar to those of the inner disks, but on average younger HII regions tend to be selected in the bright inner disks. Reddening by dust is not negligible in the outer disks, and subject to significant large-scale spatial variations. For both galaxies the radial abundance gradient flattens to a constant value outside of the isophotal radius. The outer disk O/H abundance ratio is highly homogeneous, with a scatter of only ~0.06 dex. Based on the excitation and chemical (N/O ratio) analysis we find no compelling evidence for variations in the upper initial mass function of the ionising clusters of extended disks. The O/H abundance in the outer disks of the target galaxies corresponds to 35% of the solar value (or higher, depending on the metallicity diagnostic). This conflicts with the notion that metallicities in extended disks of spiral galaxies are necessarily low. The observed metal enrichment cannot be produced with the current level of star formation. We discuss the possibility that metal transport mechanisms from the inner disks lead to metal pollution of the outer disks. Gas accretion from the intergalactic medium, enriched by outflows, offers an alternative solution.

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A Picture-perfect Pure-disc Galaxy

The bright galaxy NGC 3621, captured here using the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, appears to be a fine example of a classical spiral. But it is in fact rather unusual: it does not have a central bulge and is therefore described as a pure-disc galaxy.
NGC 3621 is a spiral galaxy about 22 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Snake). It is comparatively bright and can be seen well in moderate-sized telescopes. This picture was taken using the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The data were selected from the ESO archive by Joe DePasquale as part of the Hidden Treasures competition. Joe's picture of NGC 3621 was ranked fifth in the competition.

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Title: A Chandra view of NGC 3621: a bulgeless galaxy hosting an AGN in its early phase?
Authors: M. Gliozzi (1), S. Satyapal (1), M. Eracleous (2), L. Titarchuk (1), C.C. Cheung (3) ((1) GMU, (2) PSU, (3) NASA GSFC)

We report the detection of a weak X-ray point source coincident with the nucleus of the bulgeless disk galaxy NGC 3621, recently discovered by Spitzer to display high ionisation mid-infrared lines typically associated with AGN. These Chandra observations provide confirmation for the presence of an AGN in this galaxy, adding to the growing evidence that black holes do form and grow in isolated bulgeless disk galaxies. Although the low signal-to-noise ratio of the X-ray spectrum prevents us from carrying out a detailed spectral analysis of the nuclear source, the X-ray results, combined with the IR and optical spectroscopic results, suggests that NGC 3621 harbours a heavily absorbed AGN, with a supermassive black hole of relatively small mass accreting at a high rate. Chandra also reveals the presence of two bright sources straddling the nucleus located almost symmetrically at 20" from the center. Both sources have X-ray spectra that are well-fitted by an absorbed power-law model. Assuming they are at the distance of NGC 3621, these two sources have luminosities of the order of 1.e39 erg/s, which make them ULXs and suggest that they are black hole systems. Estimates of the black hole mass based on the X-ray spectral analysis and scaling laws of black hole systems suggest that the 2 bright sources might be intermediate mass black holes with M_BH of the order of a few thousand solar masses. However, higher quality X-ray data combined with multi-wavelength observations are necessary to confirm these conclusions.

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