We report new near-IR integral field spectroscopy of the central starburst region of the barred spiral galaxy M83 obtained with Cambridge Infra-Red Panoramic Survey Spectrograph (CIRPASS) on Gemini-South, which we analyse in conjunction with GHαFaS Fabry–Perot data, an Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) IRIS2 Ks-band image, and near- and mid-IR imaging from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The bulk of the current star formation activity is hidden from optical view by dust extinction, but is seen in the near- and mid-IR to the north of the nucleus. This region is being fed by inflow of gas through the bar of M83, traced by the prominent dust lane entering into the circumnuclear region from the north. An analysis of stellar ages confirms that the youngest stars are indeed in the north-west. A gradual age gradient, with older stars further to the south, characterizes the well-known star-forming arc in the central region of M83, and is consistent with a stable scenario where gas inflow into the central regions is facilitated by the galactic bar.
Detailed analyses of the Paβ ionized gas kinematics and near-IR imaging confirm that the kinematic centre coincides with the photometric centre of M83, and that these are offset significantly, by about 3 arcsec or 60 pc, from the visible nucleus of the galaxy. We discuss two possible options, the first of which postulates that the kinematic and photometric centre traces a galaxy nucleus hidden by a substantial amount of dust extinction, in the range AV= 3–10 mag. By combining this information with kinematic results and using arguments from the literature, we conclude that such a scenario is, however, unlikely, as is the existence of other ‘hidden’ nuclei in M83.
We thus concur with recent authors and favour a second option, in which the nucleus of the galaxy is offset from its kinematic and photometric centre. This is presumably a result of some past interaction, possibly related to the event which lies at the origin of the disturbance of the outer disc of the galaxy. We find some indications for a disturbance in the Hα velocity field which would confirm the influence of the m= 1 perturbation in the gravitational potential, but note that further high-quality stellar kinematic data are needed to confirm this scenario.
2010. Vol. 408, no 2, 797-811 p.
galaxies: individual: M83 (NGC 5236), galaxies: kinematics and dynamics, galaxies: nuclei, galaxies: star clusters: general