Abstract:

Active galactic nuclei and bursts of star formation are two distinct phenomena that amply change their host environments. They are present in a significant number of galaxies at all redshifts. In this thesis, we aim toward a better understanding of the physical processes that allow for the formation and maintenance of these two phenomena. We focus on the study of the physical conditions of the interstellar gas in the central kiloparsec region of the barred active galaxy NGC 1097 (Paper I). In Paper I we present different CO transitions and the consequent analysis realized in order to derive the molecular gas content together with the molecular mass inflow toward the centre of the galactic gravitational potential well. To completely understand the physical processes that drive such gas rearrangement, a coherent picture for a dynamical system has to be considered. We have developed a code, Paper II, in order to model the dynamics of a predominantly rotating system with an arbitrary mass distribution. The formalism we have used is based on analytical solutions of the first order approximation of the equations of motion of a smooth medium that may be subject to dissipation. The most important free parameter to constrain the boundary conditions of the model is the angular frequency of the perturbing pattern, which may be assumed virtually invariant over significant ranges of galactocentric radii. We constrain the pattern velocity using the Tremaine-Weinberg method (Paper III). Hence, we have prepared all procedures needed to comprehend the physical processes that sustain the nuclear activity and bursts of star formation: the amount of gas in the region and the dynamics of the system. In Paper IV, we model the neutral and ionized gas kinematics in NGC 1097 and apply a combination of the methods described in Paper II and Paper III to comprehend the rearrangement of gas in the galaxy. In order to observationally discern the gas inflow in the nuclear region at a higher resolution, we apply the methods developed and used in this thesis to Cycle-0 ALMA observations of our target galaxy, and we confirm that we are able to follow the streaming of gas from 20 kiloparsec distances down to 40 parsecs from its central central supermassive black hole (Paper V).