A flare in the jet of Pictor A

H.L. Marshall, M.J. Hardcastle, M. Birkinshaw, J.H. Croston, D. Evans, H. Landt, E. Lenc, F. Massaro, E. Perlman, D.A. Schwartz, A. Siemiginowska, L. Stawarz, C.M. Urry, D.M. Worrall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


A Chandra X-ray imaging observation of the jet in Pictor A showed a feature that appears to be a flare that faded between 2000 and 2002. The feature was not detected in a follow-up observation in 2009. The jet itself is over 150 kpc long and about 1 kpc wide, so finding year-long variability is surprising. Assuming a synchrotron origin of the observed high-energy photons and a minimum energy condition for the outflow, the synchrotron loss time of the X-ray emitting electrons is of order 1200 years, which is much longer than the observed variability timescale. This leads to the possibility that the variable X-ray emission arises from a very small sub-volume of the jet, characterized by a magnetic field that is substantially larger than the average over the jet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L213-L216
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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