Volume 653, September 2021
|Number of page(s)||19|
|Published online||01 September 2021|
From electrons to Janskys: Full stokes polarized radiative transfer in 3D relativistic particle-in-cell jet simulations
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 Department of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, AL 35811, USA
Accepted: 3 June 2021
Context. Despite decades of dedicated observation and study, the underlying plasma composition of relativistic extragalactic jets remains largely unknown.
Aims. Relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (RMHD) models are able to reproduce many of the observed macroscopic features of these outflows (e.g., recollimation shocks, jet sheaths and spines, bow shocks, and enshrouding jet cocoons). The nonthermal synchrotron emission detected by very long baseline interferometric arrays, however, is a by-product of the kinetic-scale physics occurring within the jet, physics that is not modeled directly in most RMHD codes. This paper attempts to discern the radiative differences between distinct plasma compositions within relativistic jets using small-scale 3D relativistic particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations.
Methods. We made use of a polarized radiative transfer scheme to generate full Stokes imaging of two PIC jet simulations, one in which the jet is composed of an electron-proton (e− − p+) plasma (i.e., a normal plasma jet), and the other in which the jet is composed of an electron-positron (e− − e+) plasma (i.e., a pair plasma jet). We examined the differences in the morphology and intensity of the linear polarization and circular polarization (CP) emanating from these two jet simulations.
Results. Our PIC simulations, when scaled into physical units, are ∼150 cubic kilometers in size. We find that the fractional level of CP (measured relative to integrated total intensity) emanating from the e− − p+ plasma jet is orders of magnitude larger than the level emanating from an e− − e+ plasma jet of a similar speed and magnetic field strength. In addition, we find that the morphology of both the linearly and circularly polarized synchrotron emission is distinct between the two jet compositions. These results highlight the following: (i) the potential of high-resolution full-Stokes polarimetric imaging to discern between normal plasma and pair plasma jet emission in larger scale systems and (ii) the challenges faced by kinetic simulations in modeling this emission self-consistently. We also demonstrate the importance of slow-light interpolation and we highlight the effect that a finite light-crossing time has on the resultant polarization when ray-tracing through relativistic plasma. Placing a firm constraint on the plasma content of relativistic extragalactic jets will help to advance our understanding of jet feedback.
Key words: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal / radiative transfer / relativistic processes / polarization
© N. R. MacDonald and K.-I. Nishikawa 2021
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://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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