The pc-scale kinematics of a BL Lacertae object
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Apartado 3004, 18080 Granada, Spain
3 Astronomy Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1042, USA
4 I. Physikalisches Institut Köln, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Str. 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
Accepted: 13 October 2009
Context. Flat-spectrum radio sources often show a core-jet structure on pc-scales. Individual jet components reveal predominantly outward directed motion. For the BL Lac object S5 0716+714 conflicting apparent velocities have been reported in the literature. This object is an intra-day variable source and suited to investigate a possible correlation between kinematic properties and flux-density variability on different timescales.
Aims. We study the kinematics in the pc-scale jet of S5 0716+714 to determine the apparent speeds of the jet components based on a much improved data set. In addition, we search for correlations between the radio flux-density light curves and the morphological changes detected along the VLBI jet.
Methods. We (re-)analyze 50 VLBI observations obtained with the VLBA at 5 different frequencies (5–43 GHz) between 1992.73 and 2006.32. The data have been parameterized using circular Gaussian components. We analyze the jet component motion in detail taking care not only to account for motion in the radial but also in the orthogonal direction. We study the evolution of the jet ridge line and investigate the spectral properties of the individual components. We search for correlations between radio band light curves and the kinematic properties of the jet components.
Results. We present an alternative kinematic scenario for jet component motion in S5 0716+714. We present evidence for the apparent stationarity of jet components (with regard to their core separation) with time. Jet components, however, do seem to move significantly non-radially with regard to their position angle and in a direction perpendicular to the major axis of the jet. We discuss a possible correlation between the long-term radio flux-density variability and apparent jet component motions.
Conclusions. In S5 0716+714 an alternative motion scenario is proposed. With regard to the core separation, rather stationary components can fit the VLBI observations well. A new model to explain the observed motion with regard to the position angle is required. Based on the correlation between the longterm radio flux-density variability and the position angle evolution of a jet component, we conclude that a geometric contribution to the origin of the long-term variability might not be negligible. Subluminal motion has been reported for most of the TeV blazars. Our analysis also confirms this finding for the case of S5 0716+714. This result increases the number of TeV blazars showing apparent subluminal motion to 7.
Key words: galaxies: active / BL Lacertae objects: individual: S5 0716+714 / techniques: interferometric
© ESO, 2009