The narrow-line region (NLR) of the Seyfert 2 galaxy NGC 3393 is dominated by a symmetric structure which appears as S-shaped arms in Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images. These arms, which occupy the central few arcseconds of the nucleus, border a linear, triple-lobed radio source. We use HST imaging and spectra, ground-based optical images, long-slit spectra, Fabry-Perot imaging spectroscopy, and VLA radio data to perform a detailed investigation of the kinematics and ionization of the line-emitting gas in NGC 3393 and of its relationship with the relativistic gas responsible for the radio emission. The excitation map [O III] λ5007/(Hα + [N II] λλ6548, 6584) shows a biconical structure, consistent with the anisotropic nuclear ionizing radiation expected in the unified scheme. Extrapolation to ionizing frequencies of our upper limit to the 2100 Å flux of the nuclear source provides a factor ≥3 × 104 too few ionizing photons to account for the recombination line emission, which also suggests that the nuclear ionizing source radiates anisotropically. However, the kinetic energy of the outflow is sufficient to power the line emission via photoionizing shocks, and a tentative detection of extended UV emission is consistent with this model. Furthermore, the broad component of the emission lines has a similar orientation and spatial extent as the triple radio source. Nevertheless, other tests are inconsistent with the photoionizing shock model—there is no correlation between local velocity dispersion, surface brightness, and excitation, and the gaseous abundances of [Ca II], Al II], and Mg II are much lower than expected if these species have been liberated into the gas phase through grain destruction by shocks. We conclude that the radio lobes appear to have created denser regions of gas on their leading edges, thus forming the S-shaped arms, but that the ionization is most likely due to photoionization by an obscured central source.

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Published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, v. 129, no. 2, p. 517-545.

© 2000. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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