Affordable Access

A barred spiral at the centre of the giant elliptical radio galaxy Centaurus A

  • Mirabel, I. F.
  • Laurent, O.
  • Sanders, D. B.
  • Sauvage, M.
  • Tagger, M.
  • Charmandaris, V.
  • Vigroux, L.
  • Gallais, P.
  • Cesarsky, C.
  • Block, D. L.
Published Article
Publication Date
Oct 26, 1998
Submission Date
Oct 26, 1998
arXiv ID: astro-ph/9810419
External links


We report observations at mid-infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths of Centaurus A (CenA, NGC 5128), the giant elliptical galaxy that harbors the closest radio loud Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) to Earth. The dust emission from the deep interior of CenA reveals a bisymmetric structure with a diameter of 5' (5 kpc), centred at the AGN. This structure is remarkably similar to that of a barred spiral galaxy, with the bar lying in a plane that is tilted ~18 degrees from the line of sight. The true nature of the distribution of dust in the inner regions of CenA is noticeably displaced from the more chaotic and widespread optical obscuration. The barred spiral is a quasi-stable structure formed at the center of the giant elliptical from the tidal debris of a gas-rich object(s) accreted in the past 10^9 years. The total size and mass of interstellar gas in the barred spiral at the center of CenA is comparable to the small Local Group spiral galaxy Messier 33. The observation of this remarkable structure opens the more general question on whether the dusty hosts of giant radio galaxies like CenA, are "symbiotic" galaxies composed of a barred spiral inside an elliptical, where the bar serves to funnel gas toward the AGN.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times