Computational studies of the transverse structure of AGN jets

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Murphy, Eoin Gerard
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University College Cork
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Both the emission properties and the evolution of the radio jets of Active Galactic Nuclei are dependent on the magnetic (B) fields that thread them. A number of observations of AGN jets suggest that the B fields they carry have a significant helical component, at least on parsec scales. This thesis uses a model, first proposed by Laing and then developed by Papageorgiou, to explore how well the observed properties of AGN jets can be reproduced by assuming a helical B field with three parameters; pitch angle, viewing angle and degree of entanglement. This model has been applied to multifrequency Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations of the AGN jets of Markarian 501 and M87, making it possible to derive values for the helical pitch angle, the viewing angle and the degree of entanglement for these jets. Faraday rotation measurements are another important tool for investigating the B fields of AGN jets. A helical B field component should result in a systematic gradient in the observed Faraday rotation across the jet. Real observed radio images have finite resolution; typical beam sizes for cm-wavelength VLBI observations are often comparable to or larger than the intrinsic jet widths, raising questions about how well resolved a jet must be in the transverse direction in order to reliably detect transverse Faraday-rotation structure. This thesis presents results of Monte Carlo simulations of Faraday rotation images designed to directly investigate this question, together with a detailed investigation into the probabilities of observing spurious Faraday Rotation gradients as a result of random noise and finite resolution. These simulations clearly demonstrate the possibility of detecting transverse Faraday-rotation structures even when the intrinsic jet widths are appreciably smaller than the beam width.
AGN , Interferometry , Faraday rotation , Radio astronomy , Helical magnetic fields
Murphy, E. G. 2014. Computational studies of the transverse structure of AGN jets. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.