Revealing the Double Nucleus of NGC 4490

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NGC 4490/85 (UGC 7651/48) or Arp 269 is well known for being one of the closest interacting/merging galactic systems. NGC 4490 has a high star formation rate (SFR) and is surrounded by an enormous H i feature stretching about 60 kpc north and south of the optically visible galaxies. Both the driver for the high SFR in NGC 4490 and the formation mechanism of the H i structure are puzzling aspects of this system. We have used mid-infrared Spitzer data to show that NGC 4490 has a double nucleus morphology. One nucleus is visible in the optical, while the other is only visible at infrared and radio wavelengths. We find the optical nucleus and the potential infrared visible nucleus have similar sizes, masses, and luminosities. Both are comparable in mass and luminosity to other nuclei found in interacting galaxy pairs and much more massive and luminous compared with typical nonnuclear star-forming complexes. We examine possible origin scenarios for the infrared feature, and conclude that it is likely that NGC 4490 is itself a merger remnant, which is now interacting with NGC 4485. This earlier encounter provides both a possible driver for extended star formation in NGC 4490, and multiple pathways for the formation of the extended H i plume.