Monday, July 22, 2013

1307.5121 (S. P. O'Sullivan et al.)

Broadband radio circular polarization spectrum of the relativistic jet in PKS B2126-158    [PDF]

S. P. O'Sullivan, N. M. McClure-Griffiths, I. J. Feain, B. M. Gaensler, R. J. Sault
We present full-Stokes radio polarization observations of the quasar PKS B2126-158 (z=3.268) from 1 to 10 GHz using the Australia Telescope Compact Array. The source has large fractional circular polarization, m_c \equiv |V|/I, detected at high significance across the entire band (from 15 to 90\sigma per 128 MHz sub-band). This allows us to construct the most robust circular polarization (CP) spectrum of an AGN jet to date. We find m_c \propto \nu^{+0.60\pm0.03} from 1.5 to 6.5 GHz, with a peak of m_c ~ 1% before the spectrum turns over somewhere between 6.5 and 8 GHz, above which m_c \propto \nu^{-3.0\pm0.4}. The fractional linear polarization (p) varies from <~0.2% to ~1% across our frequency range and is strongly anti-correlated with the fractional CP, with a best-fit power law giving m_c \propto p^{-0.24\pm0.03}. This is the first clear relation between the observed linear and circular polarisations of an AGN jet, revealing the action of Faraday conversion of linear polarization (LP) to CP within the jet. More detailed modelling in conjunction with high-spatial resolution observations are required to determine the true driving force behind the conversion (i.e. magnetic twist or internal Faraday rotation). In particular determining whether the observed Faraday rotation is internal or entirely external to the jet is key to this goal. The simplest interpretation of our observations favours some internal Faraday rotation, implying that Faraday rotation-driven conversion of LP to CP is the dominant CP generation mechanism. In this case, a small amount of vector-ordered magnetic field along the jet axis is required, along with internal Faraday rotation from the low energy end of the relativistic electron energy spectrum in an electron-proton dominated jet.
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