The nucleus of the bulge-dominated, multiply barred S0/a galaxy NGC 2681 is studied in detail using the high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope Faint Object Camera (FOC), Near-Infrared Camera and Multiobject Spectrometer (NICMOS) imaging, and the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS). The ionized gas central velocity dispersion is found to increase by a factor ≈2 when narrowing the aperture from R ≈ 1″.5 (ground) to R ≈ 0″.1 (FOS). Dynamical modeling of these velocity dispersions suggests that NGC 2681 does host a supermassive black hole (BH) for which one can estimate a firm mass upper limit MBH ≲ 6 × 107 M⊙. This upper limit is consistent with the relation between the central BH mass and velocity dispersion MBH - σ known for other galaxies. The emission-line ratios place the nucleus of NGC 2681 among LINERs. It is likely that the emission-line region comes from a rather mild, but steady, feeding of gas to the central BH in this galaxy. The inner stellar population lacks any measurable color gradient (to a radius of 0.6 kpc) from the infrared to the ultraviolet, consistently with FOC, FOS, and IUE data, all indicating that this system underwent a starburst ≈1 Gyr ago that encompassed its whole interior, down to its very center. The most likely source of such a widely distributed starburst is the dumping of tidally extruded gas from a galaxy neighbor. If so, then NGC 2681 can be considered as the older brother of M82, seen face-on as opposed to the edge-on view we have for M82.
- Galaxies: individual (NGC 2681)
- Galaxies: nuclei
- Galaxies: photometry
- Galaxies: spiral