Synchrotron Polarization in Blazars

2014Jan
Affiliations: 1Ohio University, LANL, 2Univ. of Potsdam, DESY, 3North-West University, Ohio University

We present a detailed analysis of time- and energy-dependent synchrotron polarization signatures in a shock-in-jet model for gamma-ray blazars. Our calculations employ a full 3D radiation transfer code, assuming a helical magnetic field throughout the jet. The code considers synchrotron emission from an ordered magnetic field, and takes into account all light-travel-time and other relevant geometric effects, while the relevant synchrotron self-Compton and external Compton effects are taken care of with the 2D MCFP code. We consider several possible mechanisms through which a relativistic shock propagating through the jet may affect the jet plasma to produce a synchrotron and high-energy flare. Most plausibly, the shock is expected to lead to a compression of the magnetic field, increasing the toroidal field component and thereby changing the direction of the magnetic field in the region affected by the shock. We find that such a scenario leads to correlated synchrotron + SSC flaring, associated with substantial variability in the synchrotron polarization percentage and position angle. Most importantly, this scenario naturally explains large PA rotations by > 180 deg., as observed in connection with gamma-ray flares in several blazars, without the need for bent or helical jet trajectories or other non-axisymmetric jet features.

Comments: Submitted to ApJ

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