Are spine-sheath polarization structures in the jets of active galactic nuclei associated with helical magnetic fields?

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Gabuzda, Denise
Reichstein, A. R.
O'Neill, E. L.
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Oxford University Press
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One possible origin for polarization structures across jets of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) with a central 'spine' of orthogonal magnetic field and a 'sheath' of longitudinal magnetic field along one or both edges of the jet is the presence of a helical jet magnetic field. Simultaneous Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) polarization observations of AGN displaying partial or full spine-sheath polarization structures were obtained at 4.6, 5.0, 7.9, 8.9, 12.9 and 15.4 GHz, in order to search for additional evidence for helical jet magnetic fields, such as transverse Faraday rotation gradients (due to the systematic change in the line-of-sight magnetic-field component across the jet). Results for eight sources displaying monotonic transverse Faraday rotation gradients with significances >= 3 sigma are presented here. Reversals in the directions of the transverse RM gradients with distance from the core or with time are detected in three of these AGNs. These can be interpreted as evidence for a nested helical magnetic field structure, with different directions for the azimuthal field component in the inner and outer regions of helical field. The results presented here support the idea that many spine-sheath polarization structures reflect the presence of helical magnetic fields being carried by these jets.
Magnetic fields , Polarization , Galaxies , Active , Jets
Gabuzda, D. C., Reichstein, A. R. and O'Neill, E. L. (2014) 'Are spine–sheath polarization structures in the jets of active galactic nuclei associated with helical magnetic fields?', Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 444(1), pp. 172-184. doi: 10.1093/mnras/stu1381
© 2014, the Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society