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PKS 1127-145 Absorber Illustration
(Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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(26 Sep 01)
PKS 1127-145:
Chandra Scores A Double Bonus With A Distant Quasar

PKS 1127-145
Credit: NASA/CXC/A.Siemiginowska(CfA)/J.Bechtold(U.Arizona)

The X-ray image of the quasar PKS 1127-145, a highly luminous source of X-rays and visible light about 10 billion light years from Earth, shows an enormous X-ray jet that extends at least a million light years from the quasar. The jet is likely due to the collision of a beam of high-energy electrons with microwave photons.

The high-energy beam is thought to have been produced by explosive activity related to gas swirling around a supermassive black hole. The length of the jet and the observed bright knots of X-ray emission suggest that the explosive activity is long-lived but intermittent.

On their way to Earth, the X-rays from the quasar pass through a galaxy located 4 billion light years away. Atoms of various elements in this galaxy absorb some of the X-rays, and produce a dimming of the quasar's X-rays, or an X-ray shadow. In a similar way, when our body is X-rayed, our bones produce an X-ray shadow. By measuring the amount of absorption astronomers were able to estimate that 4 billion years ago, the gas in the absorbing galaxy contained a much lower concentration of oxygen relative to hydrogen gas than does our galaxy - about 5 times lower. These observations will give astronomers insight into how the oxygen supply of galaxies is built up over the eons.

Fast Facts for PKS 1127-145:
Credit  NASA/CXC/A.Siemiginowska(CfA)/J.Bechtold(U.Arizona)
Scale  Image is 60 arcsec on a side.
Category  Quasars & Active Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 11h 30m 7.10s | Dec -14° 49' 27"
Constellation  Crater
Observation Dates  May 28, 2000
Observation Time  8 hours
Obs. IDs  866
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
References J. Bechtold, et al. 2001, Astrophys. J. 562, 133; A. Siemiginowska et al. Astro-ph/021116
Distance Estimate  10 billion light years (redshift z = 1.187)
Release Date  February 06, 2002