Astrophys. J., 586, 33-51 (2003/March-3)
Pearson-Readhead survey sources. II. The long-term centimeter-band total flux and linear polarization properties of a complete radio sample.
ALLER M.F., ALLER H.D. and HUGHES P.A.
Abstract (from CDS):
Using UMRAO centimeter-band total flux density and linear polarization monitoring observations of the complete Pearson-Readhead extragalactic source sample obtained between 1984 August and 2001 March, we identify the range of variability in extragalactic objects as functions of optical and radio morphological classification and relate total flux density variations to structural changes in published coeval VLBI maps in selected objects. As expected, variability is common in flat- or inverted-spectrum (α≤0.5) core-dominated QSOs and BL Lac objects. Unexpectedly, we find flux variations in several steep-spectrum sample members, including the commonly adopted flux standard 3C 147. Such variations are characteristically several-year rises or declines or infrequent outbursts, requiring long-term observations for detection: we attribute them to the brightening of weak core components, a change that is suppressed by contributions from extended structure in all but the strongest events, and identify a wavelength dependence for the amplitude of this variability consistent with the presence of opacity in some portions of the jet flow. One morphological class of steep-spectrum objects, the compact symmetric objects (CSOs), characteristically shows only low-level variability. We examine the statistical relation between fractional polarization and radio class based on the data at 14.5 and 4.8 GHz. The blazars typically exhibit flat-to-inverted polarization spectra, a behavior attributed to opacity effects. Among the steep-spectrum objects, the lobe-dominated FR I galaxies have steep fractional polarization spectra, while the FR II galaxies exhibit fractional polarization spectra ranging from inverted to steep, with no identifiable common property that accounts for the range in behavior. For the CSO/gigahertz-peaked spectrum sources, we verify that the fractional polarizations at 4.8 GHz are only of the order of a few tenths of a percent, but at 14.5 GHz we find significantly higher polarizations, ranging from 1% to 3%; this frequency dependence supports a scenario invoking Faraday depolarization by a circumnuclear torus. We have identified preferred orientations of the electric vector of the polarized emission (EVPA) at 14.5 and 4.8 GHz in roughly half of the objects and compared these with orientations of the flow direction indicated by VLBI morphology. When comparing the distributions of the orientation offsets for the BL Lac objects and the QSOs, we find differences in both range and mean value, in support of intrinsic class differences. In the shock-in-jet scenario, we attribute this to the allowed range of obliquities of shocks developing in the flow relative to the flow direction: in the BL Lac objects the shocks are nearly transverse to the flow direction, while in the QSOs they include a broader range of obliquities and can be at large angles to it. The fact that we find long-term stability in EVPA over many events implies that a dominant magnetic field orientation persists; in the core-dominated objects, with small contribution from the underlying quiescent jet, this plausibly suggests that the magnetic field has a long-term memory, with subsequent shock events exhibiting similar EVPA orientation, or, alternatively, the presence of a standing shock in the core. We have looked for systematic, monotonic changes in EVPA, which might be expected in the emission from a precessing jet, a model currently invoked for some AGNs; none were identified. Further, we carried out a Scargle periodogram analysis of the total flux density observations, but found no strong evidence for periodicity in any of the sample sources. The only well-established case in support of both jet precession and periodic variability remains the non-sample member OJ 287.
Galaxies: Active - Galaxies: General - Polarization - Galaxies: Quasars: General - Radio Continuum: Galaxies - Shock Waves
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