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  Cosmic 'Leaf Blower' Robs Galaxy of Star-Making Fuel

Supernova explosions and the jets of a monstrous black hole are scattering a galaxy's star-making gas like a cosmic leaf blower, a new study finds. The findings, which relied on ultraviolet observations from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and a host of other instruments, fill an important gap in the current understanding of galactic evolution.
It has long been known that gas-rich spiral galaxies like our Milky Way smash together to create elliptical galaxies such as the one observed in the study. These big, round galaxies have very little star formation. The reddish glow of aging stars comes to dominate the complexion of elliptical galaxies, so astronomers refer to them as "red and dead."
The process that drives the dramatic transformation from spiral galactic youth to elderly elliptical is the rapid loss of cool gas, the fuel from which new stars form. Supernova explosions can start the decline in star formation, and then shock waves from the supermassive black hole finish the job. Now astronomers think they have identified a recently merged galaxy where this gas loss has just gotten underway.

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Title: Classical radio source propagating into outer HI disc in NGC 3801
Authors: Bjorn Emonts (1), Criag Burnett (2), Raffaella Morganti (3,4), Christian Struve (3,4) ((1) CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science/ATNF, (2) Univ. Melbourne, (3) ASTRON, (4) Kapteyn Inst, Univ. Groningen.)

We present observations of a large-scale disc of neutral hydrogen (HI) in the nearby Fanaroff & Riley type-I radio galaxy NGC 3801 with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. The HI disc (34 kpc in diameter and with M_HI = 1.3 x 10^9 M_sun) is aligned with the radio jet axis. This makes NGC 3801 an ideal system for investigating the evolution of a small radio source through its host galaxy's cold ISM. The large-scale HI disc is perpendicular to a known inner CO disc and dust-lane. We argue that the formation history of the large-scale HI disc is in agreement with earlier speculation that NGC 3801 was involved in a past gas-rich galaxy-galaxy merger (although other formation histories are discussed). The fact that NGC 3801 is located in an environment of several HI-rich companions, and shows indications of ongoing interaction with the nearby companion NGC 3802, strengthens this possibility. The large amounts of ambient cold ISM, combined with X-ray results by Croston et al (2007) on the presence of over-pressured radio jets and evidence for an obscuring torus, are properties that are generally not, or no longer, associated with more evolved FR-I radio sources. We do show, however, that the HI properties of NGC 3801 are comparable to those of a significant fraction of nearby low-power compact radio sources, suggesting that studies of NGC 3801 may reveal important insight into a more general phase in the evolution of at least a significant fraction of nearby radio galaxies.

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Title: NGC3801 caught in the act: A post-merger starforming early-type galaxy with AGN-jet feedback
Authors: Ananda Hota, Soo-Chang Rey, Yongbeom Kang, Suk Kim, Satoki Matsu****a, Jiwon Chung

In the current models of galaxy formation and evolution, AGN feedback is crucial to reproduce galaxy luminosity function, colour-magnitude relation and M-sigma relation. However, if AGN-feedback can indeed expel and heat up significant amount of cool molecular gas and consequently quench star formation, is yet to be demonstrated observationally. Only in four cases so far (Cen A, NGC 3801, NGC 6764 and Mrk 6), X-ray observations have found evidences of jet-driven shocks heating the ISM. We chose the least-explored galaxy, NGC 3801, and present the first ultraviolet imaging and stellar population analysis of this galaxy from GALEX data. We find this merger-remnant early-type galaxy to have an intriguing spiral-wisp of young star forming regions (age ranging from 100--500 Myr). Taking clues from dust/PAH, HI and CO emission images we interpret NGC 3801 to have a kinematically decoupled core or an extremely warped gas disk. From the HST data we also show evidence of ionised gas outflow similar to that observed in HI and molecular gas (CO) data, which may have caused the decline of star formation leading to the red optical colour of the galaxy. However, from these panchromatic data we interpret that the expanding shock shells from the young (~2.4 million years) radio jets are yet to reach the outer gaseous regions of the galaxy. It seems, we observe this galaxy at a rare stage of its evolutionary sequence where post-merger star formation has already declined and new powerful jet feedback is about to affect the gaseous star forming outer disk within the next 10 Myr, to further transform it into a red-and-dead early-type galaxy.

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