The kinematics and ionization of nuclear gas clouds in centaurus A

Geoffrey V. Bicknell*, Ralph S. Sutherland, Nadine Neumayer

*Corresponding author for this work

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    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Neumayer et al. established the existence of a blueshifted cloud in the core of Centaurus A, within a few parsecs of the nucleus and close to the radio jet. We propose that the cloud has been impacted by the jet, and that it is in the foreground of the jet, accounting for its blueshifted emission on the southern side of the nucleus. We consider both shock excitation and photoionization models for the excitation of the cloud. Shock models do not account for the [Si VI] and [Ca VIII] emission line fluxes. However, X-ray observations indicate a source of ionizing photons in the core of Centaurus A; photoionization by the inferred flux incident on the cloud can account for the fluxes in these lines relative to Brackett-γ. The power-law slope of the ionizing continuum matches that inferred from synchrotron models of the X-rays. The logarithm of the ionization parameter is -1.9, typical of that in Seyfert galaxies and consistent with the value proposed for dusty ionized plasmas. The model cloud density depends upon the Lorentz factor of the blazar and the inclination of our line of sight to the jet axis. For acute inclinations, the inferred density is consistent with expected cloud densities. However, for moderate inclinations of the jet to the line of sight, high Lorentz factors imply cloud densities in excess of 105 cm-3 and very low filling factors, suggesting that models of the gamma-ray emission should incorporate jet Lorentz factors ≲ 5.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number36
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2013


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