Recent observations of the radio galaxy 3C 321 are presented. The optical nucleus consists of two components (A, B), separated by ∼ 4″ (∼ 6 kpc), whose low-resolution spectra strongly resemble those of high-ionization type 2 Seyfert nuclei. The relative intensities of the emission lines differ in A and B by less than 1%, and their profiles are almost identical. 3C 321 appears to be a convincing example of a gravitationally lensed object.
Careful analysis of high-quality radio and optical data, however, reveals that the system is almost certainly not a lens. The equivalent widths of the emission lines are roughly twice as high in B than in A, and there are significant spatial offsets between regions of bright continuum and line emission. A slight, but fundamental, difference is visible in the two Hα emission profiles. The radial velocities of A and B are discrepant by 31 ± 10 km s−1. Finally, component A is nearly coincident with a flat-spectrum radio core, whereas B is next to an extended, steep-spectrum knot of radio emission.
This object should serve as a warning to lens hunters: beware of impostors, whose true properties may be difficult to ascertain without extensive optical and radio observations.