Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A disrupted radio jet inside the host galaxy of the quasar 3C48


THE nearby quasar 3C48 was the first to be optically identified1, and its redshift, z = 0.368 (ref. 2), was the second, after that of 3C2733, to be determined. Despite this pedigree, its detailed radio structure has remained obscure because its angular size, ˜ 1 arcsec, is so small. We present here a new radio image, with resolution <10 mas, made by very-long-baseline interferometry using an array of 17 telescopes. We find a highly disrupted radio jet quite different from those found in standard high-luminosity radio sources. The jet lies well within the body of the gas-rich host galaxy of the quasar, and we believe that its irregular shape is due to collision with a dense clump of gas in the interstellar medium of the host galaxy, rather than to any irregularity or precession of the central engine that produces the jet.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Matthews, T. A., Bolton, J. G., Greenstein, J. L., Munch, G. & Sandage, A. R. Sky and Telescope 21, 148 (1961).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Greenstein, J. L. & Matthews, T. A. Nature 197, 1041–1042 (1963).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Schmidt, M. Nature 197, 1040 (1963).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Benson, J. M. et al. Astrophys. J. 334, 560–572 (1988).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Reid, M. J., Biretta, J. A., Junor, W., Muxlow, T. W. B. & Spencer, R. E. Astrophys. J. 336, 112–120 (1989).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Cornwell, T. J. & Wilkinson, P. N. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 196, 1067–1086 (1981).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Cornwell, T. J. & Evans, K. F. Astr. Astrophys. 143, 77–83 (1985).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Wilkinson, P. N. et al. in Parsec Scale Jets (eds Zensus, J. A. & Pearson, T. J.) 152–169 (Cambridge University Press, 1990).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Thomasson, P. Q. Jl R. astr. Soc. 27, 413–431 (1986).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Simon, R. S. et al. Astrophys. J. 354, 140–147 (1990).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Wilkinson, P. N., Spencer, R. E., Readhead, A. C. S., Pearson, T. J. & Simon, R. S. IAU Symp. No. 110, 25–28 (1984).

  12. Fanti, R. et al. Astr. Astrophys. 231, 333–346 (1990).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. Boroson, T. A., Persson, S. E. & Oke, J. B. Astrophys. J. 293, 120–131 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Boroson, T. A. & Oke, J. B. Nature 296, 397–399 (1982).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. Wampler, E. J., Robinson, L. B., Burbidge, E. M. & Baldwin, J. A. Astrophys. J. 198, L49–L52 (1975).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Balick, B. & Heckman, T. M. Astrophys. J. 265, L1–L5 (1983).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Boroson, T. A. & Oke, J. B. Astrophys. J. 281, 535–544 (1984).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Neugebauer, G., Soifer, B. T. & Miley, G. K. Astrophys. J. 295, L27–L31 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Fabian, A. C., Crawford, C. S., Johnstone, R. M. & Thomas, P. A. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 228 963–971 (1987).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Fabbiano, G., Gioia, I. M. & Trinchieri, G. Astrophys. J. 347, 127–143 (1989).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. Soker, N. & Sarazin, C. L. Astrophys. J. 327, 66–81 (1988).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. Lonsdale, C. J. & Barthel, P. D. Astr. J. 92, 12–22 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Pedlar, A., Dyson, J. E. & Unger, S. W. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 214, 463–473 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Unger, S. W., Pedlar, A., Booler, R. V. & Harrison, B. A. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 219, 387–402 (1986).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. Blandford, R. D. & Königl, A. Astrophys. J. 232, 34–48 (1979).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Orr, M. J. L. & Browne, I. W. A. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 200, 1067–1080 (1982).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  27. Schklovsky, J. Nature 228, 1174–1175 (1970).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  28. Saslaw, W. C. & Whittle, M. Astrophys. J. 325, 142–147 (1988).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  29. Baars, J. W. M., Genzel, R., Pauliny-Toth, I. I. K. & Witzel, A. Astr. Astrophys. 61, 99–106 (1977).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wilkinson, P., Tzioumis, A., Benson, J. et al. A disrupted radio jet inside the host galaxy of the quasar 3C48. Nature 352, 313–315 (1991).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing