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M.F. Aller, H.D. Aller (U. Michigan), R.M. Plotkin (U. Washington)
Circular polarization (Stokes V) observations potentially provide information on the nature and origin of the underlying magnetic fields in AGNs. We have been systematically monitoring a group of sources with detectable circular polarization (V>0.1 percent, a level set by the instrumental polarization of our system) in all 4 Stokes parameters at 8.0 and 4.8 GHz since 2000, and also at 14.5 GHz since November 2003, with the University of Michigan prime focus paraboloid antenna. These data are compared with historical observations obtained with the same instrument at 8.0 and 4.8 GHz extending back to 1978. Specific goals are to study the temporal spectral behavior of Stokes V and its relation to variability in total flux and linear polarization, and to investigate the question of polarity stability on decade-long time scales using data obtained with the same instrumentation and at the same frequencies.
The data are consistent with linear-to-circular mode conversion in partially opaque regions of the source. We find examples of polarity changes with time at one or more frequencies associated with outbursts in total flux and linear polarization, and polarity differences within the 3 frequencies at a single epoch in one case, 3C 279. Such behavior argues against the notion that the sign of Stokes V is a simple tracer of the net flow of magnetic energy from the central engine to the jet or an indicator of the direction of rotation of the spinning central black hole/accretion disk via the winding up of the initial seed magnetic field.
This work was supported in part by NSF grant AST-0307629 and by funds from the University of Michigan.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.