86, 43, and 22 GH[CLC]z[/CLC] VLBI Observations of 3C 120

José-Luis Gómez, Alan P. Marscher, Antonio Alberdi
1999 Astrophysical Journal  
We present the first 86 GHz VLBI observations of the radio galaxy 3C 120, together with contemporaneous 43 and 22 GHz polarimetric VLBA observations. The very high angular resolution obtained at 86 GHz provides an upper limit to the size of the core of 54 μas (0.025 h^-1pc). This represents a direct determination of the base of the jet which is independent of variability arguments (which depend on uncertain estimates of the Doppler factor), and places it below approximately one light-month.
more » ... arison with previous VLBA observations after a one-year interval shows pronounced changes in the structure and polarization of the jet. Most of the components are found to follow a curved path while undergoing a steepening of their spectra accompanied by a decrease in total and polarized emission. However, at least one component is observed to follow a quasi-ballistic motion, accompanied by a flattening of its spectrum, as well as an increase in total and polarized flux. This may be explained by its interaction with the external medium, resulting in a shock that enhances the emission and aligns the magnetic field perpendicular to the component motion, thereby producing an increase of the degree of polarization from undetected values to as high as 15 highest degree of polarization (23 displacement from the ridge line of the structural position angle of the jet as it moved downstream. We have found a mean swing to the south of the position angle of the innermost components of ∼ 6^∘ between late 1996 and 1997, which may be responsible for the jet curvature observed at parsec and kiloparsec scales.
doi:10.1086/312170 fatcat:yr5ydbwjcbhe3e3yzoiegh5hni