Morphology of the nuclear disk in M 87
A deep, fully sampled diffraction limited (FWHM ∼ 70 mas) narrowband image of the central region in M 87 was obtained with the Wide Filed and Planetary Camera 2 of the Hubble Space Telescope using the dithering technique. The Hα+[N ii] continuum subtracted image reveals a wealth of details in the gaseous disk structure described earlier by Ford et al. (1994). The disk morphology is dominated by a well defined three-arm spiral pattern. In addition, the major spiral arms contain a large number of small “arclets” covering a range of sizes (0″.1–0″.3=10–30 pc). The overall surface brightness profile inside a radius ∼ 1″.5 (100 pc) is well represented by a power-law I(μ) ∼ μ−1.75, but when the central ∼ 40 pc are excluded it can be equally well fit by an exponential disk. The major axis position angle remains constant at about PAdisk ∼ 6° for the innermost ∼ 1″, implying the disk is oriented nearly perpendicular to the synchrotron jet (PAjet ∼ 291°). At larger radial distances the isophotes twist, reflecting the gas distribution in the filaments connecting to the disk outskirts. The ellipticity within the same radial range is e=0.2 − 0.4, which implies an inclination angle of i ∼ 35°. The sense of rotation combined with the dust obscuration pattern indicate that the spiral arms are trailing.
KeywordsHubble Space Telescope Central Black Hole Gaseous Disk Disk Morphology Large Radial Distance
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