Journal Article

The non-ballistic superluminal motion in the plane of the sky

Biping Gong

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 389, issue 1, pages 315-320
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The non-ballistic superluminal motion in the plane of the sky

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Faster than light or superluminal motion was originally predicted as a relativistic illusion of ballistic moving ejecta, and confirmed in a few tens of sources observationally. However, the recent results of the long-term multi-epoch observations of quasars, active galaxies, tracing the structure further along the jets and following the motion of individual features for longer time, raise questions that are difficult to understand by the standard ballistic model. That is, the ejecta are aligned with the local jet direction, instead of the core; and within individual jets apparently inward-moving features are observed. Here, we show that these unexpected phenomena, although only a small fraction among large samples, indicate the existence of non-ballistic jet motion, in which a continuous jet produces a discrete hot spot. And the precession of such a hot spot in the plane of the sky appears superluminal. Therefore, a unified and simple interpretation to the new results is obtained, which can be further tested through its predictions on the evolution of ejecta. The study is of importance in the understanding of the nature of superluminal motion, the interaction of jets and surrounding materials, as well as the common physics underlying quasars and microquasars.

Keywords: quasars: general; BL Lacertae objects: general; galaxies: jets

Journal Article.  4308 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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