Understanding the formation of relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei remains an elusive problem1. This is partly because observational tests of jet formation models suffer from the limited angular resolution of ground-based very-long-baseline interferometry that has thus far been able to probe the structure of the jet acceleration and collimation region in only two sources2,3. Here, we report observations of 3C84 (NGC 1275)—the central galaxy of the Perseus cluster—made with an interferometric array including the orbiting radio telescope of the RadioAstron4 mission. The data transversely resolve the edge-brightened jet in 3C84 only 30 μas from the core, which is ten times closer to the central engine than was possible in previous ground-based observations5 and allows us to measure the jet collimation profile from 102 to 104 gravitational radii (rg) from the black hole. The previously found5, almost cylindrical jet profile on scales larger than a few thousand rg is seen to continue at least down to a few hundred rg from the black hole, and we find a broad jet with a transverse radius of ≳250 rg at only 350 rg from the core. This implies that either the bright outer jet layer goes through a very rapid lateral expansion on scales ≲102 rg or it is launched from the accretion disk.
- Pub Date:
- April 2018
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies;
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena
- Unedited, revised manuscript of the Letter published as Advance Online Publication (AOP) on the Nature Astronomy website on 02 April 2018. 15 pages, 3 figures