Chandra examines Cygnus A


Registered Senior Member
<!--intro--><b>From the Chandra X-Ray Observatory:</b> Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found a giant football-shaped cavity within X-ray emitting hot gas surrounding the galaxy Cygnus A. The cavity in the hot gas has been created by two powerful jets emitted from the central black hole region in the nucleus of Cygnus A.<!--/intro-->

<a HREF=""><img SRC="" border=1 align=left></a>Hot gas is steadily being piled up around the cavity as it continuously expands, creating a bright rim of X-ray emission. The jets themselves terminate in radio and X-ray emitting “hot spots” some 300,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. These results are being presented to the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, HI, by Andrew S. Wilson, Andrew J. Young (University of Maryland) and Patrick L. Shopbell (California Institute of Technology).

“This is a spectacular cavity, which is inflated by jets and completely surrounds the Cygnus A galaxy,” said Dr. Wilson, who is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park. “We are witnessing a battle between the gravity of the Cygnus A galaxy, which is trying to pull the hot gas inwards, and the pressure of material created by the jets, which is trying to push the hot gas outwards.”

Cygnus A has long been famous as the brightest radio source in the sky. It is the nearest powerful radio galaxy. The Chandra X-ray image, which was taken with the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), shows the cavity surrounded by a vast sea of extremely hot gas. The elongated oval shape comes from the force of the outwardly moving jets as they push through the hot gas. Bright bands around the “equator of the football” are also visible, and this may be evidence of material swirling toward the central black hole.