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Astron. Astrophys. 351, 834-840 (1999)

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Adaptive optics observations of luminous infrared galaxies

II. Imaging of the merging galaxy Arp 299 *

O. Lai 1, D. Rouan 2, F. Rigaut 3, R. Doyon 4 and F. Lacombe 2

1 Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation, Kamuela, HI 96743, USA
2 Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, Département Spatial, CNRS, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
3 European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, Germany
4 University of Montreal, Department of Astronomy, Canada

Received 25 November 1998 / Accepted 23 March 1999


We present adaptive optics observations of the Luminous Infrared Galaxy, Arp 299. This merging galaxy (NGC 3690) is the site of a very powerful starburst activity. Very high angular resolution observations at 2.2[FORMULA] reveal many super-clusters of newly formed stars. Those clusters feature intrinsic luminosities and surface densities well above the figures generally found in the Local Cluster, pointing to a highly efficient stellar formation with possibly very high mass stars. Comparison with HST images in V band allows us to extract a [V-K] map, and shows that the extinction varies largely within the area. Comparison of the very nucleus of Mkn 171A to a model point spread function shows that it is resolved in K band, with a FWHM of [FORMULA] leading to the conclusion that an AGN as the primary power source is very unlikely. The small size, high extinction and high intrinsic luminosity of this nucleus prompts us to suggest an ultra-compact starburst as primary source of luminosity.

Key words: instrumentation: adaptive optics – galaxies: individual: Arp 299; NGC 3690; Mkn 171 – galaxies: starburst – infrared: galaxies

* Based on observations obtained at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the University of Hawaii.

Send offprint requests to: O. Lai (olai@keck.hawaii.edu)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: November 16, 1999