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Circular Polarization from Stochastic Synchrotron Sources

Mateusz Ruszkowski, Mitchell C. Begelman
2002 Astrophysical Journal  
The transfer of polarized radiation in stochastic synchrotron sources is explored by means of analytic treatment and Monte Carlo simulations. We argue that the main mechanism responsible for the circular polarization properties of compact synchrotron sources is likely to be Faraday conversion and that, contrary to common expectation, a significant rate of Faraday rotation does not necessarily imply strong depolarization. The long-term persistence of the sign of circular polarization, observed
more » ... ization, observed in many sources, is most likely due to a small net magnetic flux generated in the central engine, carried along the jet axis and superimposed on a highly turbulent magnetic field. We show that the mean levels of circular and linear polarizations depend on the number of field reversals along the line of sight and that the gradient in Faraday rotation across turbulent regions can lead to "correlation depolarization". Our model is potentially applicable to a wide range of synchrotron sources. In particular, we demonstrate how our model can naturally explain the excess of circular over linear polarization in the Galactic Center and the nearby spiral galaxy M81 and discuss its application to the quasar 3C 279, the intraday variable blazar PKS 1519-273 and the X-ray binary SS 433.
doi:10.1086/340659 fatcat:vx4rgnj6w5anbbfdis2uo5gjdi