Evidence for nonhydrostatic gas motions in the hot interstellar medium of centaurus A

R. P. Kraft*, M. J. Hardcastle, G. R. Sivakoff, A. Jordan, P. E. J. Nulsen, M. Birkinshaw, W. R. Forman, C. Jones, D. M. Worrall, J. H. Croston, D. A. Evans, S. Raychaudhury, S. S. Murray, N. J. Brassington, J. L. Goodger, W. E. Harris, A. M. Juett, C. L. Sarazin, K. A. Woodley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


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 similar to 3.5 kpc from the nucleus spanning a 120 degrees arc. The temperature of the gas is 0.60 +/- 0.05 KeV (0.68 +/- 0.10keV) 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 similar to 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 latetype 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L97-L100
Number of pages4
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2008


  • galaxies : individual (Centaurus A, NGC 5128)
  • galaxies : jets
  • hydrodynamics
  • X-rays : galaxies
  • NGC 5128
  • NGC-5128


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