EDP Sciences
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Volume 403, Number 3, June I 2003
Page(s) 805 - 816
Section Cosmology
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030350

A&A 403, 805-816 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030350

Relativistic parsec-scale jets: II. Synchrotron emission

V. I. Pariev1, 2, Ya. N. Istomin1 and A. R. Beresnyak1

1  P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Leninsky Prospect 53, Moscow 117924, Russia
2  Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA
    e-mail: vpariev@pas.rochester.edu

(Received 3 April 2002 / Accepted 4 March 2003)

We calculate the optically thin synchrotron emission of fast electrons and positrons in a spiral stationary magnetic field and a radial electric field of a rotating relativistic strongly magnetized force-free jet consisting of electron-positron pair plasma. The magnetic field has a helical structure with a uniform axial component and a toroidal component that is maximal inside the jet and decreasing to zero towards the boundary of the jet. Doppler boosting and swing of the polarization angle of synchrotron emission due to the relativistic motion of the emitting volume are calculated. The distribution of the plasma velocity in the jet is consistent with the electromagnetic field structure. Two spatial distributions of fast particles are considered: uniform, and concentrated in the vicinity of the Alfvén resonance surface. The latter distribution corresponds to the regular acceleration by an electromagnetic wave in the vicinity of its Alfvén resonance surface inside the jet. The polarization properties of the radiation have been obtained and compared with the existing VLBI polarization measurements of parsec-scale jets in BL Lac sources and quasars. Our results give a natural explanation of the observed bimodality in the alignment between the electric field vector of the polarized radiation and the projection of the jet axis on the plane of the sky. We interpret the motion of bright knots as a phase velocity of standing spiral eigenmodes of electromagnetic perturbations in a cylindrical jet. The degree of polarization and the velocity of the observed proper motion of bright knots depend upon the angular rotational velocity of the jet. The observed polarizations and velocities of knots indicate that the magnetic field lines are bent in the direction opposite to the direction of the jet rotation.

Key words: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal -- magnetic fields -- galaxies: jets -- BL Lacertae objects: general -- quasars: general

Offprint request: Ya. N. Istomin, istomin@td.lpi.ac.ru

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