Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. 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 wide and collimated radio jet in 3C84 on the scale of a few hundred gravitational radii

Abstract

Understanding the formation of relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei remains an elusive problem1. This is partly because observational tests of jet formation models suffer from the limited angular resolution of ground-based very-long-baseline interferometry that has thus far been able to probe the structure of the jet acceleration and collimation region in only two sources2,3. Here, we report observations of 3C84 (NGC 1275)—the central galaxy of the Perseus cluster—made with an interferometric array including the orbiting radio telescope of the RadioAstron4 mission. The data transversely resolve the edge-brightened jet in 3C84 only 30 μas from the core, which is ten times closer to the central engine than was possible in previous ground-based observations5 and allows us to measure the jet collimation profile from ~102 to ~104 gravitational radii (rg) from the black hole. The previously found5, almost cylindrical jet profile on scales larger than a few thousand rg is seen to continue at least down to a few hundred rg from the black hole, and we find a broad jet with a transverse radius of 250 rg at only 350 rg from the core. This implies that either the bright outer jet layer goes through a very rapid lateral expansion on scales 102rg or it is launched from the accretion disk.

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

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Radio image of the central parsec in 3C84 obtained with the space-VLBI array.
Fig. 2: Inner jet-core region at high angular resolution.
Fig. 3: Jet width as a function of de-projected distance from the central engine in units of rg.

References

  1. Böttcher, M., Harris, D. E. & Krawczynski, H. Relativistic Jets from Active Galactic Nuclei (Wiley, Berlin, Germany, 2012).

  2. Asada, K. & Nakamura, M. The structure of the M87 jet: a transition from parabolic to conical streamlines. Astrophys. J. 745, L28 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Boccardi, B. et al. The stratified two-sided jet of Cygnus A. Acceleration and collimation. Astron. Astrophys. 265, 107–131 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Kardashev, N. S. et al. “RadioAstron”—a telescope with a size of 300 000 km: main parameters and first observational results. Astron. Rep. 57, 153–194 (2013).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Nagai, H. et al. Limb-brightened jet of 3C 84 revealed by the 43 GHz Very-Long-Baseline-Array observation. Astrophys. J. 785, 53 (2014).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Suzuki, F. et al. Exploring the central sub-parsec region of the y-ray bright radio galaxy 3C 84 with VLBA at 43 GHz in the period of 2002–2008. Astrophys. J. 746, 140–148 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Nagai, H. et al. Enhanced polarized emission from the one-parsec-scale hotspot of 3C 84 as a result of the interaction with the clumpy ambient medium. Astrophys. J. 849, 52 (2017).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Giroletti, G. et al. Parsec-scale properties of Markarian 501. Astrophys. J. 600, 127–140 (2004).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Hada, K. et al. High-sensitivity 86 GHz (3.5 mm) VLBI observations of M87: deep imaging of the jet base at a resolution of 10 Schwarzschild radii. Astrophys. J. 817, 131–147 (2016).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Tavecchio, F. & Ghisellini, G. On the spine-layer scenario for the very high-energy emission of NGC 1275. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 443, 1224–1230 (2014).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Komissarov, S. S. Emission by relativistic jets with boundary layers. Sov. Ast. Lett. 16, 284 (1990).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. McKinney, J. C. General relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the jet formation and large-scale propagation from black hole accretion systems. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 368, 1561–1582 (2006).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. Stawarz, L. & Ostrowski, M. Radiation from the relativistic jet: a role of the shear boundary layer. Astrophys. J. 578, 763–774 (2002).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Blandford, R. D. & Payne, D. G. Hydromagnetic flows from accretion discs and the production of radio jets. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 199, 883–903 (1982).

    Article  ADS  MATH  Google Scholar 

  15. Blandford, R. D. & Znajek, R. L. Electromagnetic extraction of energy from Kerr black holes. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 179, 433–456 (1977).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  16. Tchekhovskoy, A. & McKinney, J. C. Prograde and retrograde black holes: whose jet is more powerful? Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 423, L55–L59 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Plambeck, R. L. et al. Probing the parsec-scale accretion flow of 3C 84 with millimeter wavelength polarimetry. Astrophys. J. 797, 66–71 (2014).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  18. Narayan, R., McKinney, J. C. & Farmer, A. J. Self-similar force-free wind from an accretion disc. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 375, 548–566 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. Lyubarsky, Y. Asymptotic structure of Poynting-dominated jets. Astrophys. J. 698, 1570–1589 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. Nakamura, M. & Asada, K. The parabolic jet structure in M87 as a magnetohydrodynamic nozzle. Astrophys. J. 775, 118 (2013).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. Komissarov, S. S. & Falle, S. A. E. G. The large-scale structure of FR-II radio sources. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 297, 1087–1108 (1998).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. Bruni, G., Anderson, J., Alef, W., Lobanov, A. & Zensus, J. A. Space-VLBI with RadioAstron: new correlator capabilities at MPIfR. In Proc. 12th European VLBI Network Symp. 119 (Proceedings of Science, 2014).

  23. Petrov, L., Kovalev, Y. Y., Fomalont, E. B. & Gordon, D. The Very Long Baseline Array Galactic Plane Survey – VGaPS. Astron. J. 142, 35 (2011).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  24. Kogan, L. Global Ground VLBI Network as a Tied Array for Space VLBI (NRAO, 1996).

  25. Kovalev, Y. A. et al. The RadioAstron project: measurements and analysis of basic parameters of space telescope in flight in 2011–2013. Cosm. Res. 52, 393–402 (2014).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  26. Murphy, D. W. The imaging capability of VSOP. Adv. Space Res. 26, 609–612 (2000).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  27. Akiyama, K. et al. Imaging the Schwarzschild-radius-scale structure of M87 with the Event Horizon Telescope using sparse modeling. Astrophys. J. 838, 1 (2017).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  28. Lobanov, A. P. Ultracompact jets in active galactic nuclei. Astron. Astrophys. 330, 79–89 (1998).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  29. Fujita, Y. & Nagai, H. Discovery of a new subparsec counterjet in NGC 1275: the inclination angle and the environment. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 465, L94–L98 (2017).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  30. Walker, R. C., Romney, J. D. & Benson, J. M. Detection of a VLBI counterjet in NGC 1275: a possible probe of the parsec-scale accretion region. Astrophys. J. 430, L45–L48 (1994).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  31. Asada, K. et al. The expanding radio lobe of 3C 84 revealed by VSOP observations. Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn 58, 261–270 (2006).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  32. Lister, M. L. et al. MOJAVE: monitoring of jets in active galactic nuclei with VLBA experiments. VI. Kinematics analysis of a complete sample of blazar jets. Astron. J. 138, 1874–1892 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  33. Aleksić, J. et al. Contemporaneous observations of the radio galaxy NGC 1275 from radio to very high energy γ-rays. Astron. Astrophys. 564, A5 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Wilman, R. J., Edge, A. C. & Johnstone, R. M. The nature of the molecular gas system in the core of NGC 1275. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 359, 755–764 (2005).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  35. Scharwächter, J., McGregor, P. J., Dopita, M. A. & Beck, T. L. Kinematics and excitation of the molecular hydrogen accretion disc in NGC 1275. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 429, 2315–2332 (2013).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank E. Ros for useful comments on the manuscript. The RadioAstron project is led by the Astro Space Center of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Lavochkin Scientific and Production Association under a contract with the State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS, in collaboration with partner organizations in Russia and other countries. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities. The European VLBI Network is a joint facility of independent European, African, Asian and North American radio astronomy institutes. The KVN is a facility operated by the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute. The KVN operations are supported by the Korea Research Environment Open NETwork, which is managed and operated by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information. This work was partially supported by the National Research Council of Science and Technology, granted by the International Joint Research Program (EU-16-001). This research is based on observations correlated at the Bonn Correlator, jointly operated by the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie and the Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy. T.S. was funded by the Academy of Finland projects 274477 and 284495. Y.Y.K., M.M.L., K.V.S. and P.A.V. were supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project 16-12-10481). S.-S.L. was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korean government (MSIP; number 987 NRF-2016R1C1B2006697).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

G.G., T.S. and M.O. coordinated the research, carried out the image analysis and wrote the manuscript. T.S., Y.Y.K., K.V.S., S.-S.L., B.W.S. and J.A.Z. planned and organized the space-VLBI imaging experiment, including the ground array. G.B. correlated the VLBI data with help from P.A.V., using the software tools developed by J.M.A. and L.P. Correlated VLBI data were calibrated by T.S. with contributions from M.M.L., while G.G., T.S., M.O. and Y.Y.K. imaged the data. The modelling was carried out by M.N., H.N., M.K. and M.G. All authors contributed to discussion of the data and its interpretation, and commented on the manuscript. T.S. is the Principal Investigator of the RadioAstron Nearby AGN Key Science Program.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to G. Giovannini or T. Savolainen.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figure 1, Supplementary References 1–13 and Supplementary Text

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Giovannini, G., Savolainen, T., Orienti, M. et al. A wide and collimated radio jet in 3C84 on the scale of a few hundred gravitational radii. Nat Astron 2, 472–477 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-018-0431-2

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-018-0431-2

This article is cited by

Search

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