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The system of filaments in M87 - Evidence for matter falling into an active nucleus
Ford, H. C.; Butcher, H.
AA(Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Ariz.), AB(Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Ariz.)
Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, vol. 41, Oct. 1979, p. 147-172. (ApJS Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Astronomical Photometry, Elliptical Galaxies, Galactic Structure, Interstellar Matter, Line Spectra, Galactic Nuclei, Gas Ionization, Radio Sources (Astronomy), Shock Fronts, Spatial Distribution, Spectrophotometry, Tables (Data)
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Optical observations are presented which reveal a system of faint emission-line filaments in the inner part of the giant elliptical galaxy M87. It is shown that these filaments and the so-called counterjet and orthogonal fan jet belong to a common emission system which exhibits a clear spatial alignment with the double-lobed core radio source. Spectrophotometry of the filaments and nucleus of M87 is discussed which indicates a striking similarity in relative line strengths in the two regions. It is concluded that: (1) the gas in the filaments is ionized and excited in shock fronts; (2) the abundances and mechanisms of ionization and excitation are the same for the nucleus and the filaments; (3) the observed nuclear gas is gas that has fallen to the center of M87, rather than the result of an explosion in the nucleus; and (4) the M87 phenomenon can be understood by assuming that the filaments result from the formation of cold condensations in a hot intracluster or intragalactic medium that is accreting onto the nucleus of M87.

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