Volume 414, Number 3, February II 2004
|Page(s)||885 - 894|
|Published online||27 January 2004|
The XMM-Newton view of the X-ray halo and jet of NGC 6251
George Mason University, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy and School of Computational Sciences, MS 3F3, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
2 Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, via Brera 28, 20121 Milano, Italy
3 Brandeis University, Department of Physics, MS 057, Waltham, MA 02454, USA
4 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 662, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Corresponding author: R. M. Sambruna, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 24 October 2003
We present an XMM-Newton observation of the radio jet and diffuse halo of the nearby radio galaxy NGC 6251. The EPIC spectrum of the galaxy's halo is best-fitted by a thermal model with temperature keV and sub-solar abundances. Interestingly, an additional hard X-ray component is required to fit the EPIC spectra of the halo above 3 keV, and is independently confirmed by an archival Chandra observation. However, its physical origin is not clear. Contribution from a population of undetected Low Mass X-ray Binaries seems unlikely. Instead, the hard X-ray component could be due to inverse Compton scattering of the CMB photons (IC/CMB) off relativistic electrons scattered throughout the halo of the galaxy, or non-thermal bremsstrahlung emission. The IC/CMB interpretation, together with limits on the diffuse radio emission, implies a very weak magnetic field, Gauss, while a non-thermal bremsstrahlung origin implies the presence of a large number of very energetic electrons. We also detect X-ray emission from the outer (~3.5′) jet, confirming previous ROSAT findings. Both the EPIC and ACIS spectra of the jet are best-fitted by a power law with photon index , fixed Galactic column density, and 1 keV flux nJy. A thermal model is formally ruled out by the data. Assuming an origin of the X-rays from the jet via IC/CMB, as suggested by energetic arguments, and assuming equipartition implies a large Doppler factor (). Alternatively, weaker beaming is possible for magnetic fields several orders of magnitude lower than the equipartition field.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: nuclei / X-rays: galaxies
© ESO, 2004
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