The effect of a Chandra-measured merger-related gas component on the lobes of a dead radio galaxy

D. M. Worrall*, M. Birkinshaw, R. P. Kraft, M. J. Hardcastle

*Corresponding author for this work

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


We use Chandra data to infer that an X-ray-bright component of gas is in the process of separating the radio lobes of 3C 442A. This is the first radio galaxy with convincing evidence that central gas, overpressured with respect to the lobe plasma and not simply a static atmosphere, is having a major dynamical effect on the radio structure. We speculate that the expansion of the gas also reexcites electrons in the lobes of 3C 442A through compression and adiabatic heating. Two features of 3C 442A contribute to its dynamical state. First, the radio source is no longer being powered by a detected active jet, so that the dynamical state of the radio plasma is at the mercy of the ambient medium. Second, the two early-type galaxies, NGC 7236 and NGC 7237, one of which was the original host of 3C 442A, are undergoing a merger and have already experienced a close encounter, suggesting that the X-ray-bright gas is mostly the heated combined galaxy atmospheres. The lobes have been swept apart for similar to 10(8) yr by the pressure-driven expansion of the X-ray-bright inner gas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L79-L82
Number of pages4
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2007


  • galaxies : active
  • galaxies : individual ( NGC 7237, 3C 442A)
  • galaxies : interactions
  • radio continuum : galaxies
  • X-rays : galaxies
  • NGC-7236/7237
  • NGC-1587/1588


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