Journal Article

The 15–43 GHz parsec-scale circular polarization of 41 active galactic nuclei

V. M. Vitrishchak, D. C. Gabuzda, J. C. Algaba, E. A. Rastorgueva, S. P. O'Sullivan and A. O'Dowd

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 391, issue 1, pages 124-135
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The 15–43 GHz parsec-scale circular polarization of 41 active galactic nuclei

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We present the results of parsec-scale circular-polarization measurements based on Very Long Baseline Array data for a number of radio-bright, core-dominated active galactic nuclei obtained simultaneously at 15, 22 and 43 GHz. The degrees of circular polarization mc for the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) core region at 15 GHz are similar to the values reported earlier at this wavelength, with typical values of a few tenths of a per cent. We find that mc as often rises as falls with increasing frequency between 15 and 22 GHz, while the degree of circular polarization at 43 GHz is in all cases higher than at 22 and 15 GHz. This behaviour seems contrary to expectations, since the degree of circular polarization from both synchrotron radiation and the Faraday conversion of linear to circular polarization – the two main mechanisms considered thus far in the literature – should decrease towards higher frequencies if the source is homogeneous. The increase in mc at 43 GHz may be due to the presence of regions of both positive and negative circular polarization with different frequency dependences (but decreasing with increasing frequency) on small scales within the core region; alternatively, it may be associated with the intrinsic inhomogeneity of a Blandford–Königl like jet. In several objects, the detected circular polarization appears to be near, but not coincident with, the core, although further observations are needed to confirm this. We find several cases of changes in sign with frequency, most often between 22 and 43 GHz. We find tentative evidence for transverse structure in the circular polarization of 1055+018 and 1334−127, that is consistent with their being generated by either the synchrotron mechanism or the Faraday conversion in a helical magnetic field. Our results confirm the earlier finding that the sign of the circular polarization at a given observing frequency is generally consistent across epochs separated by several years or more, suggesting stability of the magnetic-field orientation in the innermost jets.

Keywords: galaxies: active; galaxies: jets; quasars: general

Journal Article.  8739 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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