The jet heated x-ray filament in the Centaurus A northern middle radio lobe
We present results from a 40 ks XMM-Newton observation of the X-ray filament coincident with the southeast edge of the Centaurus A Northern Middle Radio Lobe (NML). We find that the X-ray filament consists of five spatially resolved X-ray knots embedded in a continuous diffuse bridge. The spectrum of each knot is well fitted by a thermal model with temperatures ranging from 0.3 to 0.7 keV and subsolar elemental abundances. In four of the five knots, nonthermal models are a poor fit to the spectra, conclusively ruling out synchrotron or IC/CMB mechanisms for their emission. The internal pressures of the knots exceed that of the ambient interstellar medium or the equipartition pressure of the NML by more than an order of magnitude, demonstrating that they must be short lived (~3 × 106 yr). Based on energetic arguments, it is implausible that these knots have been ionized by the beamed flux from the active galactic nucleus of Cen A or that they have been shock heated by supersonic inflation of the NML. In our view, the most viable scenario for the origin of the X-ray knots is that they are the result of cold gas shock heated by a direct interaction with the jet. The most plausible model of the NML is that it is a bubble from a previous nuclear outburst that is being re-energized by the current outburst. The northeast inner lobe and the large-scale jet are lossless channels through which the jet material rapidly travels to the NML in this scenario. We also report the discovery of a large-scale (at least 35 kpc radius) gas halo around Cen A.