Map of Centaurus A
Credit: Max Planck Institute and Stefan Doebereiner

High Resolution X-ray Map of the Active Galaxy Centaurus A

The radio galaxy Centaurus A was one of the first radio sources to be identified with an extragalactic object. The optical counterpart of the radio source is NGC 5128, an elliptical galaxy whose nucleus is bisected by a prominent dust lane, and whose low redshift (z=0.0008) locates it at a distance of 3.5 Mpc, making it one of the nearest active galactic nuclei (AGN). The proximity of Cen A has allowed detailed studies of structures associated with the galaxy. This ROSAT HRI observation shows the X-ray nucleus which is spatially coincident with the radio/optical nucleus. Also visible is a one-sided X-ray jet consisting of a series of aligned knots, extending out to about 6 arcminutes and located between the nucleus and the north-east radio lobe. These knots appear to be coincident with the knots observed in the radio jet, and are about 6 arcseconds in radius. Enhanced ridges of emission along the edges of the dust lane probably due to a large population of early type stars and H II regions. The X-ray feature on the opposite side of the "jet" is probably produced by the compression and heating of interstellar gas by the southwest inner radio lobe. For a more information see the image of Cen A recently released by the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified February 12, 2002