Dual-frequency VLBI study of Centaurus A on sub-parsec scales. The highest-resolution view of an extragalactic jet
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Context: Centaurus A is the closest active galactic nucleus. High resolution imaging using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) enables us to study the spectral and kinematic behavior of the radio jet–counterjet system on sub-parsec scales, providing essential information for jet emission and formation models. Aims: Our aim is to study the structure and spectral shape of the emission from the central-parsec region of Cen A. Methods: As a target of the Southern Hemisphere VLBI monitoring program TANAMI (Tracking Active Galactic Nuclei with Austral Milliarcsecond Interferometry), VLBI observations of CenA are made regularly at 8.4 and 22.3 GHz with the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA) and associated telescopes in Antarctica, Chile, and South Africa. Results: The first dual-frequency images of this source are presented along with the resulting spectral index map. An angular resolution of 0.4 mas × 0.7mas is achieved at 8.4GHz, corresponding to a linear scale of less than 0.013 pc. Hence, we obtain the highest resolution VLBI image of CenA, comparable to previous space-VLBI observations. By combining with the 22.3 GHz image, which has been taken without contributing transoceanic baselines at somewhat lower resolution, we present the corresponding dual-frequency spectral index distribution along the sub-parsec scale jet revealing the putative emission regions for recently detected γ-rays from the core region by Fermi/LAT. Conclusions: We resolve the innermost structure of the milliarcsecond scale jet and counterjet system of CenA into discrete components. The simultaneous observations at two frequencies provide the highest resolved spectral index map of an AGN jet allowing us to identify multiple possible sites as the origin of the high energy emission.
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