Volume 633, January 2020
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Section||Letters to the Editor|
|Published online||23 December 2019|
Letter to the Editor
Apparent superluminal core expansion and limb brightening in the candidate neutrino blazar TXS 0506+056
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 Lehrstuhl für Astronomie, Universität Würzburg, Emil-Fischer-Straße 31, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
3 Departament d’Astronomia i Astrofísica, Universitat de València, c/ Dr. Moliner 50, 46100 Burjassot, València, Spain
4 Observatori Astronòmic, Universitat de València, c/ Catedràtic José Beltrán Martínez 2, 46980 Paterna, València, Spain
5 INAF – Istituto di Radioastronomia, Via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
6 Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16801, USA
7 National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
8 University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Cir, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA
9 Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064, USA
Accepted: 3 December 2019
Context. IceCube has reported a very-high-energy neutrino (IceCube-170922A) in a region containing the blazar TXS 0506+056. Correlated gamma-ray activity has led to the first high-probability association of a high-energy neutrino with an extragalactic source. This blazar has been found to be in a radio outburst during the neutrino event.
Aims. Our goal is to probe the sub-milliarcsecond properties of the radio jet right after the neutrino detection and during the further evolution of the radio outburst.
Methods. We performed target of opportunity observations at 43 GHz frequency using very long baseline interferometry imaging, corresponding to 7 mm in wavelength, with the Very Long Baseline Array two and eight months after the neutrino event.
Results. We produced two images of the radio jet of TXS 0506+056 at 43 GHz with angular resolutions of (0.2 × 1.1) mas and (0.2 × 0.5) mas, respectively. The source shows a compact, high brightness temperature core, albeit not approaching the equipartition limit and a bright and originally very collimated inner jet. Beyond approximately 0.5 mas from the millimeter-VLBI core, the jet loses this tight collimation and expands rapidly. During the months after the neutrino event associated with this source, the overall flux density is rising. This flux density increase happens solely within the core. Notably, the core expands in size with apparent superluminal velocity during these six months so that the brightness temperature drops by a factor of three despite the strong flux density increase.
Conclusions. The radio jet of TXS 0506+056 shows strong signs of deceleration and/or a spine-sheath structure within the inner 1 mas, corresponding to about 70–140 pc in deprojected distance, from the millimeter-VLBI core. This structure is consistent with theoretical models that attribute the neutrino and gamma-ray production in TXS 0506+056 to interactions of electrons and protons in the highly relativistic jet spine with external photons originating from a slower moving jet region. Proton loading due to jet-star interactions in the inner host galaxy is suggested as the possible cause of deceleration.
Key words: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal / neutrinos / techniques: interferometric / radio continuum: galaxies / quasars: individual: TXS 0506+056
© E. Ros et al. 2019
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Open Access funding provided by Max Planck Society.
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