Dynamics and high-energy emission of the flaring HST-1 knot in the M 87 jet

L. Stawarz*, F. Aharonian, J. Kataoka, M. Ostrowski, A. Siemiginowska, M. Sikora

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


Stimulated by recent observations of a giant radio-to-X-ray synchrotron flare from Hubble Space Telescope (HST)-1, the innermost knot of the M 87 jet, as well as by the detection of a very high energy γ-ray emission from M 87, we investigated the dynamics and multiwavelength emission of the HST-1 region. We study thermal pressure of the hot interstellar medium in M 87 and argue for the presence of a gaseous condensation in its central parts. We postulate that this additional feature is linked to the observed central stellar cusp of the elliptical host Interaction of the jet with such a feature is likely to result in the formation of a stationary converging/diverging reconfinement/reflected shock structure in the innermost parts of the M 87 jet. We show that for a realistic set of the outflow parameters, a stationary and a flaring part of the HST-l knot located ∼100 pc away from the active centre can be associated with the decelerated portion of the jet matter placed immediately downstream of the point where the reconfinement shock reaches the jet axis. We discuss a possible scenario explaining a broad-band brightening of the HST-1 region related to the variable activity of the central core. In particular, we show that assuming a previous epoch of the high central black hole activity resulting in ejection of excess particles and photons down along the jet, one may first expect a high-energy flare of HST-1 due to inverse-Comptonization of the nuclear radiation, followed after a few years by an increase in the synchrotron continuum of this region. The synchrotron flare itself could be accompanied by a subsequent inverse-Compton brightening due to upscattering of the ambient (mostly starlight) photons. If this is the case, then the recently observed order-of-magnitude increase in the knot luminosity in all spectral bands could be regarded as an unusual echo of the order-of-magnitude outburst that had happened previously (and could be eventually observed some ∼40 yr ago) in the highly relativistic active core of the M 87 radio galaxy. We show that very high energy x-ray fluxes expected in a framework of the proposed scenario are consistent with the observed ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-992
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: individual: M 87
  • Galaxies: jets
  • Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
  • Shock waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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