Free-free absorption in the gravitational lens JVAS B0218+357
MPIfR, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe, Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
Accepted: 11 January 2007
We address the issue of anomalous image flux ratios seen in the double-image gravitational lens JVAS B0218+357. From the multi-frequency observations presented in a recent study (Mittal et al. 2006, A&A, 447, 515) and several previous observations made by other authors, the anomaly is well-established in that the image flux-density ratio (A/B) decreases from 3.9 to 2.0 over the observed frequency range from 15 GHz to 1.65 GHz. In Mittral et al. (2206), the authors investigated whether an interplay between a frequency-dependent structure of the background radio-source and a gradient in the relative image-magnification can explain away the anomaly. Insufficient shifts in the image centroids with frequency led them to discard the above effect as the cause of the anomaly. In this paper, we first take this analysis further by evaluating the combined effect of the background source extension and magnification gradients in the lens plane in more detail. This is done by making a direct use of the observed VLBI flux-distributions for each image to estimate the image flux-density ratios at different frequencies from a lens-model. As a result of this investigation, this mechanism does not account for the anomaly. Following this, we analyze the effects of mechanisms which are non-gravitational in nature on the image flux ratios in B0218+357. These are free-free absorption and scattering, and are assumed to occur under the hypothesis of a molecular cloud residing in the lens galaxy along the line-of-sight to image A. We show that free-free absorption due to an Hii region covering the entire structure of image A at 1.65 GHz can explain the image flux ratio anomaly. We also discuss whether Hii regions with physical parameters as derived from our analysis are consistent with those observed in Galactic and extragalactic Hii regions.
Key words: gravitational lensing / radiation mechanisms: general / techniques: interferometric
© ESO, 2007