The giant radio galaxy M87 is usually classified as a Fanaroff-Riley class I source, suggesting that M87 is a mis-aligned BL Lac object. Its unresolved nuclear region emits strong non-thermal emission from radio to X-rays which has been interpreted as synchrotron radiation. In an earlier paper we predicted M87 as a source of detectable gamma ray emission in the context of the hadronic Synchrotron-Proton Blazar (SPB) model. The subsequent tentative detection of TeV energy photons by the HEGRA-telescope array would, if confirmed, make it the first radio galaxy to be detected at TeV-energies. We discuss the emission from the unresolved nuclear region of M87 in the context of the SPB model, and give examples of possible model representations of its non-simultaneous spectral energy distribution. The low-energy component can be explained as synchrotron radiation by a primary relativistic electron population that is injected together with energetic protons into a highly magnetized emission region. We find that the γ-ray power output is dominated either by µ±/π± synchrotron or proton synchrotron radiation depending on whether the primary electron synchrotron component peaks at low or high energies, respectively. The predicted γ-ray luminosity peaks at ∼100GeV at a level comparable to that of the low-energy hump, and this makes M87 a promising candidate source for the newly-commissioned high-sensitivity low-threshold Cherenkov telescopes H.E.S.S., VERITAS, MAGIC and CANGAROO III. Because of its proximity, the high-energy spectrum of M87 is unaffected by absorption in the cosmic infrared (IR) background radiation field, and could therefore serve as a template spectrum for the corresponding class of blazar if corrected for mis-alignment effects. This could significantly push efforts to constrain the cosmic IR radiation field through observation of more distant TeV-blazars, and could have a strong impact on blazar emission models. If M87 is a mis-aligned BL-Lac object and produces TeV-photons as recently detected by the HEGRA-array, in the context of the SPB model it must also be an efficient proton accelerator.
galaxies: active - galaxies: individual: M87 - gamma rays: theory - radiation mechanisms: non-thermal