Parsec-Scale Kinematic and Polarization Properties of MOJAVE AGN Jets
Department of Physics, Purdue University, 525 Northwestern Avenue West Lafayette, IN, 47907, U.S.A.
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Published online: 9 December 2013
We describe the parsec-scale kinematics and statistical polarization properties of 200 AGN jets based on 15 GHz VLBA data obtained between 1994 Aug 31 and 2011 May 1. Nearly all of the 60 most heavily observed jets show significant changes in their innermost position angle over a 12 to 16 year interval, ranging from 10° to 150° on the sky, corresponding to intrinsic variations of ~ 0.5° to ~ 2°. The BL Lac jets show smaller variations than quasars. Roughly half of the heavily observed jets show systematic position angle trends with time, and 20 show indications of oscillatory behavior. The time spans of the data sets are too short compared to the fitted periods (5 to 12 y), however, to reliably establish periodicity. The rapid changes and large jumps in position angle seen in many cases suggest that the superluminal AGN jet features occupy only a portion of the entire jet cross section, and may be energized portions of thin instability structures within the jet. We have derived vector proper motions for 887 moving features in 200 jets having at least five VLBA epochs. For 557 well-sampled features, there are sufficient data to additionally study possible accelerations. The moving features are generally non-ballistic, with 70% of the well-sampled features showing either significant accelerations or non-radial motions. Inward motions are rare (2% of all features), are slow (< 0.1 mas per y), are more prevalent in BL Lac jets, and are typically found within 1 mas of the unresolved core feature. There is a general trend of increasing apparent speed with distance down the jet for both radio galaxies and BL Lac objects. In most jets, the speeds of the features cluster around a characteristic value, yet there is a considerable dispersion in the distribution. Orientation variations within the jet cannot fully account for the dispersion, implying that the features have a range of Lorentz factor and/or pattern speed. Very slow pattern speed features are rare, comprising only 4% of the sample, and are more prevalent in radio galaxy and BL Lac jets. We confirm a previously reported upper envelope to the distribution of speed versus beamed luminosity for moving jet features. Below 1026 W Hz−1 there is a fall-off in maximum speed with decreasing 15 GHz radio luminosity. A preliminary analysis of the multi-epoch jet polarization properties indicates a wide range of behavior in the core electric vector position angles over time, with the latter remaining relatively stable in some jets, and varying rapidly in others. The fractional polarization level generally increases down the jet, and high-synchrotron peaked (HSP) blazars tend to have lower core fractional polarization levels. A general trend of decreasing maximum jet speed for higher synchrotron peaked blazars further suggests lower Doppler factors in the radio-emitting jets of HSP BL Lac objects.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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