The Evolving Radio Jet in BL Lacerta

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Session 11 -- Luminous AGN and QSOs
Display presentation, Monday, 30, 1994, 9:20-6:30

[11.01] The Evolving Radio Jet in BL Lacerta

H. D. Aller, P. A. Hughes, M. F. Aller (U. Michigan)

During the past 15 years, there have been at least ten outbursts at centimeter wavelengths in this extragalactic object. We describe here the flux density and linear polarization variations observed at 4.8, 8.0 and 14.5~GHz with the Michigan 26-meter telescope during the series of outbursts since 1987. The recent bursts are somewhat different from the highly polarized bursts in the early 1980s, which provided a successful quantitative test of a source model based on propagating transverse shocks in a relativistic jet. The most notable change is that the polarization position angle during polarized outbursts has increased by approximately 10 degrees. This is approximately the same shift as found in a comparison of VLBI maps taken during the same time periods by Mutel, Denn and Dryer (1994, NRAO Workshop on Compact Extragalactic Radio Sources , ed. Zensus and Kellermann, p. 191), and supports their conclusion that the orientation of the radio emitting jet in BL~Lac has changed over time. Our preliminary analysis further suggests that a simple scaling of the physical parameters which gave quantitatively good fits to both the 1982 and 1983 bursts will not accurately describe the recent, relatively isolated, burst in 1991. We also note that while some bursts (e.g. in 1982, 1983 and 1991) exhibit degrees of linear polarization in excess of ten percent, other bursts (e.g. in 1980 and 1990) exhibit a very low degree of linear polarization. A common characteristic of the low polarization events is that they all exhibit high internal synchrotron self absorption (as indicated by the flux density spectra of the outbursts).

This research has been supported in part by NSF grant AST-9120224.

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