X-ray emission properties of large-scale jets, hot spots, and lobes in active galactic nuclei

Jun Kataoka*, Łukasz Stawarz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Citations (Scopus)


We examine a systematic comparison of jet knots, hot spots, and radio lobes recently observed with Chandra and ASCA. This report discusses the origin of their X-ray emissions and investigates the dynamics of the jets. The data were compiled at well-sampled radio (5 GHz) and X-ray (1 keV) frequencies for more than 40 radio galaxies. We examine three models for the X-ray production: synchrotron (SYN), synchrotron self-Compton (SSC), and external Compton (EC) on cosmic microwave background (CMB) photons. For the SYN sources - mostly jet knots in nearby low-luminosity radio galaxies - X-ray photons are produced by ultrarelativistic electrons with energies 10-100 TeV that must be accelerated in situ. For the other objects, conservatively classified as SSC or EC sources, a simple formulation of calculating the "expected" X-ray fluxes under an equipartition hypothesis is presented. We confirm that the observed X-ray fluxes are close to the expected ones for nonrelativistic emitting plasma velocities in the case of radio lobes and the majority of hot spots, whereas a considerable fraction of jet knots are too bright in X-rays to be explained in this way. We examine two possibilities to account for the discrepancy in a framework of the inverse Compton model: (1) the magnetic field is much smaller than the equipartition value, and (2) the jets are highly relativistic on kiloparsec and megaparsec scales. We conclude that if the inverse Compton model is the case, the X-ray-bright jet knots are most likely far from the minimum-power condition. We also briefly discuss the other possibility, namely, that the observed X-ray emission from all the jet knots is synchrotron in origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-810
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: jets
  • Magnetic fields
  • Radiation mechanisms: nonthermal
  • Radio continuum: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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