Evidence for Nonhydrostatic Gas Motions in the Hot Interstellar Medium of Centaurus A

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.73). 04/2008; 677(2):L97. DOI: 10.1086/588023
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We present preliminary results from a deep (600 ks) Chandra observation of the hot interstellar medium of the nearby early-type galaxy Centaurus A. We find a surface brightness discontinuity in the gas ~3.5 kpc from the nucleus spanning a 120° arc. The temperature of the gas is 0.60 ± 0.05 keV (0.68 ± 0.10 keV) interior (exterior) to the discontinuity. The elemental abundance is poorly constrained by the spectral fits, but if the abundance is constant across the discontinuity, there is a factor of 2.3 ± 0.4 pressure jump across the discontinuity. This would imply that the gas is moving at 470 ± 100 km s−1, or Mach 1.0 ± 0.2 (1.2 ± 0.2) relative to the sound speed of the gas external (internal) to the discontinuity. Alternatively, pressure balance could be maintained if there is a large (factor of ~7) discontinuity in the elemental abundance. We suggest that the observed discontinuity is the result of nonhydrostatic motion of the gas core (i.e., sloshing) due to the recent merger. In this situation, both gas motions and abundance gradients are important in the visibility of the discontinuity. Cen A is in the late stages of merging with a small late-type galaxy, and a large discontinuity in density and abundance across a short distance demonstrates that the gas of the two galaxies remains poorly mixed, even several hundred million years after the merger. The pressure discontinuity may have had a profound influence on the temporal evolution of the kiloparsec-scale jet. The jet could have decollimated, crossing the discontinuity and thereby forming the northeast radio lobe.

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    ABSTRACT: We present recent Hubble Space Telescope observations of the inner filament of Centaurus A, using the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) F225W, F657N and F814W filters. We find a young stellar population near the south-west tip of the filament. Combining the WFC3 data set with archival Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) F606W observations, we are able to constrain the ages of these stars to ≲10 Myr, with best-fitting ages of 1–4 Myr. No further recent star formation is found along the filament.Based on the location and age of this stellar population, and the fact that there is no radio lobe or jet activity near the star formation, we propose an updated explanation for the origin of the inner filament. Sutherland et al. suggested that radio jet-induced shocks can drive the observed optical line emission. We argue that such shocks can naturally arise due to a weak cocoon-driven bow shock (rather than from the radio jet directly), propagating through the diffuse interstellar medium from a location near the inner northern radio lobe. The shock can overrun a molecular cloud, triggering star formation in the dense molecular cores. Ablation and shock heating of the diffuse gas then give rise to the observed optical line and X-ray emission. Deeper X-ray observations should show more diffuse emission along the filament.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 03/2012; 421(2):1603 - 1623. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Jet physics is again flourishing as a result of Chandra's ability to resolve high-energy emission from the radio-emitting structures of active galaxies and separate it from the X-ray-emitting thermal environments of the jets. These enhanced capabilities have coincided with an increasing interest in the link between the growth of super-massive black holes and galaxies, and an appreciation of the likely importance of jets in feedback processes. I review the progress that has been made using Chandra and XMM-Newton observations of jets and the medium in which they propagate, addressing several important questions, including: Are the radio structures in a state of minimum energy? Do powerful large-scale jets have fast spinal speeds? What keeps jets collimated? Where and how does particle acceleration occur? What is jet plasma made of? What does X-ray emission tell us about the dynamics and energetics of radio plasma/gas interactions? Is a jet's fate determined by the central engine? Comment: 46 pages. Accepted for publication in The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review
    Astronomy and Astrophysics Review 12/2008; · 9.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We study the X-ray luminosity function (XLF) of low mass X-ray binaries (LMXB) in the nearby early-type galaxy Centaurus A, concentrating primarily on two aspects of binary populations: the XLF behavior at the low luminosity limit and comparison between globular cluster and field sources. The 800 ksec exposure of the deep Chandra VLP program allows us to reach a limiting luminosity of 8e35 erg/s, about 2-3 times deeper than previous investigations. We confirm the presence of the low luminosity break in the overall LMXB XLF at log(L_X)=37.2-37.6 below which the luminosity distribution follows a constant dN/d(ln L). Separating globular cluster and field sources, we find a statistically significant difference between the two luminosity distributions with a relative underabundance of faint sources in the globular cluster population. This demonstrates that the samples are drawn from distinct parent populations and may disprove the hypothesis that the entire LMXB population in early type galaxies is created dynamically in globular clusters. As a plausible explanation for this difference in the XLFs, we suggest that there is an enhanced fraction of helium accreting systems in globular clusters, which are created in collisions between red giants and neutron stars. Due to the 4 times higher ionization temperature of He, such systems are subject to accretion disk instabilities at approximately 20 times higher mass accretion rate, and therefore are not observed as persistent sources at low luminosities. Comment: 12 pages, Accepted by ApJ
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