Black hole outflows from Centaurus A detected with APEX

Jan 28, 2009
Colour composite image of Centaurus A, revealing the lobes and jets emanating from the active galaxy’s central black hole. This is a composite of images obtained with three instruments, operating at very different wavelengths. The 870-micron submillimetre data, from LABOCA on APEX, are shown in orange. X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are shown in blue. Visible light data from the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2 m telescope located at La Silla, Chile, show the background stars and the galaxy’s characteristic dust lane in close to "true colour". Credit: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers have a new insight into the active galaxy Centaurus A (NGC 5128), as the jets and lobes emanating from the central black hole have been imaged at submillimetre wavelengths for the first time. The new data, from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile, which is operated by ESO, have been combined with visible and X-ray wavelengths to produce this striking new image.

Centaurus A is our nearest giant galaxy, at a distance of about 13 million light-years in the southern constellation of Centaurus. It is an elliptical galaxy, currently merging with a companion spiral galaxy, resulting in areas of intense star formation and making it one of the most spectacular objects in the sky. Centaurus A hosts a very active and highly luminous central region, caused by the presence of a supermassive black hole, and is the source of strong radio and X-ray emission.

In the image, we see the dust ring encircling the giant galaxy, and the fast-moving radio jets ejected from the galaxy centre, signatures of the supermassive black hole at the heart of Centaurus A. In submillimetre light, we see not only the heat glow from the central dust disc, but also the emission from the central radio source and - for the first time in the submillimetre - the inner radio lobes north and south of the disc. Measurements of this emission, which occurs when fast-moving electrons spiral around the lines of a magnetic field, reveal that the material in the jet is travelling at approximately half the speed of light. In the X-ray emission, we see the jets emerging from the centre of Centaurus A and, to the lower right of the galaxy, the glow where the expanding lobe collides with the surrounding gas, creating a shockwave.

The Large APEX Bolometer Camera (LABOCA), built by the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR), is mounted on APEX, a 12-metre diameter submillimetre-wavelength telescope located on the 5000 m high plateau of Chajnantor in the Chilean Atacama region. APEX is a collaboration between the MPIfR, the Onsala Space Observatory and ESO. The telescope is based on a prototype antenna constructed for the next generation Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project. Operation of APEX at Chajnantor is entrusted to ESO.

The APEX observations of Centaurus A are presented in the paper by Axel Weiss et al. 2008, LABOCA observations of nearby, active galaxies, A&A, 490, 77-86. arxiv.org/abs/0808.3358

Provided by ESO

Explore further: The hot blue stars of Messier 47

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study supports the theory that 'men are idiots'

29 minutes ago

The theory that men are idiots and often do stupid things is backed up by evidence in the Christmas issue of The BMJ. The findings are based on an analyses of sex differences in idiotic behaviour.

Nanoshaping method points to future manufacturing technology

2 hours ago

A new method that creates large-area patterns of three-dimensional nanoshapes from metal sheets represents a potential manufacturing system to inexpensively mass produce innovations such as "plasmonic metamaterials" for advanced ...

Labor board OKs personal use of company e-mail (Update)

2 hours ago

In a victory for unions, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Thursday that employees can use their company email accounts for union organizing and other workplace-related purposes, if they do it on their own time.

Recommended for you

The hot blue stars of Messier 47

17 hours ago

Messier 47 is located approximately 1600 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Puppis (the poop deck of the mythological ship Argo). It was first noticed some time before 1654 by Italian astronomer ...

Why is space black?

Dec 16, 2014

Imagine you're in space. Just the floating part, not the peeing into a vacuum hose or eating that funky "ice cream" from foil bags part. If you looked at the Sun, it would be bright and your retinas would ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Going
not rated yet Jan 28, 2009
There is currently (Jan 09) an excellent documentary on the National Geographic channel called " Cosmic Monsters" about galactic center massive black holes.

There is currently (Jan 09) an excellent documentary on the Discovery channel called " Cosmic Monsters" about galactic center massive black holes.
Going
not rated yet Jan 28, 2009
There is currently (Jan 09) an excellent documentary on the National Geographic channel called " Cosmic Monsters" about galactic center massive black holes.
See http://uk.youtube...BhEa-ypk&feature=related
Sophos
not rated yet Jan 29, 2009
Centaurus A is our nearest giant galaxy, at a distance of about 13 million light-years in the southern constellation of Centaurus. It is an elliptical galaxy, currently merging with a companion spiral galaxy,


Doesn't that mean 13 million years ago is was currently merging

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.