Mass entrainment and turbulence-driven acceleration of ultra-high energy cosmic rays in Centaurus A

Sarka Wykes, Judith H. Croston, Martin J. Hardcastle, Jean A. Eilek, Peter L. Biermann, Abraham Achterberg, Justin D. Bray, Alex Lazarian, Marijke Haverkorn, Ray J. Protheroe, Omer Bromberg

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59 Scopus citations


Observations of the FR I radio galaxy Centaurus A in radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray bands provide evidence for lepton acceleration up to several TeV and clues about hadron acceleration to tens of EeV. Synthesising the available observational constraints on the physical conditions and particle content in the jets, inner lobes and giant lobes of Centaurus A, we aim to evaluate its feasibility as an ultra-high-energy cosmic-ray source. We apply several methods of determining jet power and affirm the consistency of various power estimates of ~1 × 1043 erg s-1. Employing scaling relations based on previous results for 3C 31, we estimate particle number densities in the jets, encompassing available radio through X-ray observations. Our model is compatible with the jets ingesting ~3 × 1021 g s-1 of matter via external entrainment from hot gas and ~7 × 1022 g s-1 via internal entrainment from jet-contained stars. This leads to an imbalance between the internal lobe pressure available from radiating particles and magnetic field, and our derived external pressure. Based on knowledge of the external environments of other FR I sources, we estimate the thermal pressure in the giant lobes as 1.5 × 10-12 dyn cm -2, from which we deduce a lower limit to the temperature of ~1.6 × 108 K. Using dynamical and buoyancy arguments, we infer ~440-645 Myr and ~560 Myr as the sound-crossing and buoyancy ages of the giant lobes respectively, inconsistent with their spectral ages. We re-investigate the feasibility of particle acceleration via stochastic processes in the lobes, placing new constraints on the energetics and on turbulent input to the lobes. The same "very hot" temperatures that allow self-consistency between the entrainment calculations and the missing pressure also allow stochastic UHECR acceleration models to work.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA19
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
South-East Physics Network
National Science Foundation
Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences1212096
Science and Technology Facilities CouncilST/J001600/1, ST/J001333/1


    • Acceleration of particles
    • Cosmic rays
    • Galaxies: active
    • Galaxies: individual: Centaurus A
    • Galaxies: jets
    • Turbulence


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