Event Horizon Telescope observations of the jet launching and collimation in Centaurus A

The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) observations of active galactic nuclei at millimetre wavelengths have the power to reveal the launching and initial collimation region of extragalactic radio jets, down to 10–100 gravitational radii (rg ≡ GM/c2) scales in nearby sources1. Centaurus A is the closest radio-loud source to Earth2. It bridges the gap in mass and accretion rate between the supermassive black holes (SMBHs) in Messier 87 and our Galactic Centre. A large southern declination of −43° has, however, prevented VLBI imaging of Centaurus A below a wavelength of 1 cm thus far. Here we show the millimetre VLBI image of the source, which we obtained with the Event Horizon Telescope at 228 GHz. Compared with previous observations3, we image the jet of Centaurus A at a tenfold higher frequency and sixteen times sharper resolution and thereby probe sub-lightday structures. We reveal a highly collimated, asymmetrically edge-brightened jet as well as the fainter counterjet. We find that the source structure of Centaurus A resembles the jet in Messier 87 on ~500 rg scales remarkably well. Furthermore, we identify the location of Centaurus A’s SMBH with respect to its resolved jet core at a wavelength of 1.3 mm and conclude that the source’s event horizon shadow4 should be visible at terahertz frequencies. This location further supports the universal scale invariance of black holes over a wide range of masses5,6.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Astronomy
Volume5
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1017-1028
ISSN2397-3366
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

27 pages, 9 figures. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Nature Astronomy. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-021-01417-w

Keywords

  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.CO
  • astro-ph.HE

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