A Chandra observation of the X-ray environment and jet of 3C 31

M.J. Hardcastle, D.M. Worrall, M. Birkinshaw, R.A. Laing, A.H. Bridle

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We have used a deep Chandra observation of the central regions of the twin-jet FRI radio galaxy 3C 31 to resolve the thermal X-ray emission in the central few kiloparsecs of the host galaxy, NGC 383, where the jets are thought to be decelerating rapidly. This allows us to make high-precision measurements of the density, temperature and pressure distributions in this region, and to show that the X-ray emitting gas in the centre of the galaxy has a cooling time of only 5 × 107 years. In a companion paper these measurements are used to place constraints on models of the jet dynamics.
A previously unknown one-sided X-ray jet in 3C 31, extending up to 8 arcsec from the nucleus, is detected and resolved. Its structure and steep X-ray spectrum are similar to those of X-ray jets known in other FRI sources, and we attribute the radiation to synchrotron emission from a high-energy population of electrons. In situ particle acceleration is required in the region of the jet where bulk deceleration is taking place.
We also present X-ray spectra and luminosities of the galaxies in the Arp 331 chain of which NGC 383 is a member. The spectrum and spatial properties of the nearby bright X- ray source 1E 0104+3153 are used to argue that the soft X-ray emission is mostly due to a foreground group of galaxies rather than to the background broad absorption-line quasar.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-192
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • Astronomy


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