Studies of Relativistic Jets in Active Galactic Nuclei with SKA

Relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei (AGN) are among the most powerful astrophysical objects discovered to date. Indeed, jetted AGN studies have been considered a prominent science case for SKA, and were included in several different chapters of the previous SKA Science Book (Carilli & Rawlings 2004). Most of the fundamental questions about the physics of relativistic jets still remain unanswered, and await high-sensitivity radio instruments such as SKA to solve them. These questions will be addressed specially through analysis of the massive data sets arising from the deep, all-sky surveys (both total and polarimetric flux) from SKA1. Wide-field very-long-baseline-interferometric survey observations involving SKA1 will serve as a unique tool for distinguishing between extragalactic relativistic jets and star forming galaxies via brightness temperature measurements. Subsequent SKA1 studies of relativistic jets at different resolutions will allow for unprecedented cosmological studies of AGN jets up to the epoch of re-ionization, enabling detailed characterization of the jet composition, magnetic field, particle populations, and plasma properties on all scales. SKA will enable us to study the dependence of jet power and star formation on other properties of the AGN system. SKA1 will enable such studies for large samples of jets, while VLBI observations involving SKA1 will provide the sensitivity for pc-scale imaging, and SKA2 (with its extraordinary sensitivity and dynamic range) will allow us for the first time to resolve and model the weakest radio structures in the most powerful radio-loud AGN.

Comments: 19 pages, 4 figures; to appear as part of 'Cosmic Magnetism' in Proceedings 'Advancing Astrophysics with the SKA (AASKA14)', PoS(AASKA14_093)

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