Linear Polarization of AGN Jets

2019-06-10T19:34:11Z (GMT) by Mary A. Hodge
Active galactic nuclei (AGN) jets are energetic phenomena where twin jets of plasma emerge perpendicular to the plane of the accretion disk surrounding supermassive black holes in galactic centers. Radio-loud jets are largely divided into classes based on the angle of observation (blazars versus radio galaxies), spectral line widths (Flat Spectrum Radio Quasars/FSRQs versus BL Lac objects/BL Lacs), and location of the synchrotron peak frequency in their spectral energy distribution (high-spectral peaked/HSP, intermediate-spectral peaked/ISP, or low-spectral peaked/LSP).

The linear fractional polarization of the radio emission and the direction of the polarization plan (electric vector position angle, "EVPA'') can be measured, providing information on the properties of the jets' magnetic field. This study uses and describes some processing of data from the MOJAVE program, taken with the VLBA at 15 GHz, to investigate the polarization behavior of 387 AGN.

The most polarized jets have good alignment between the EVPA and the local jet direction, and higher stability in both fractional polarization and the EVPA. This characterization best describes BL Lacs, which are notably different from FSRQs. HSP BL Lacs have lower fractional polarization than LSP BL Lacs, with fractional polarization partially dependent on apparent jet speeds. These results have supported a scenario where HSP BL Lacs and LSP BL Lacs are similar objects with differing relativistic beaming factors, while FSRQs and BL Lacs as a class have inherent differences in the makeup of their magnetic fields.