Deep VLA imaging of twelve extended 3CR quasars

A. H. Bridle (National Radio Astronomy Observatory)
D. H. Hough (Trinity University)
C. J. Lonsdale (Haystack Observatory)
J. O. Burns (New Mexico State University)
R. A. Laing (Royal Greenwich Observatory)


A representative sample of 12 extended quasars from the 3CR catalog has been imaged at 4.9 GHz using the Very Large Array (VLA). These full synthesis observations typically achieve an rms noise of 20 micro-Jy per beam. Jets are detected on at least one side of every source. The jets are well collimated compared with those in less powerfull sources, but spreading is detected in most of them. The opening angles of several jets are not constant, but show recollimation after an initial regime of rapid spreading. Many of the jets contain quasiperiodic strings of knots, of which the knot closest to the central feature is usually the brightest (until the jet nears its hot spot). The degrees of linear polarization at the jet knots range from less than 5% to approx. 50%, but show no common trend with distance along the jets. In knots that are elongated in directions close to that of the jet, the E vectors tend to be orthogonal to the jet axis. The prominence of the inner, straighter jet segments relative to the extended lobes correlates significantly with the prominence of the milliarcsecond-scale central features, but the prominence of the more bent jet segments does not. Candidates for counterjet emission are detected in seven sources, but there is no unambiguous, continuous counterjet in any of them. Estimates of the flux density ratios between the straighter jet segments and the counterjets based on these tentative detections range from 1.2:1 to greater than 175:1. There is no evidence in this sample that counterjet detectability correlates with such putative inclination indicators as central feature prominence or projected linear size. There is also no evidence that the prominence of the counterjets anticorrelates with that of the jets as predicted by simple relativistic-beaming models for the jet/counterjet asymmetry. There is, however, strong evidence that large bends in the main jet favor counterjet detection, and there are no counterjet candidates opposite long, uninterrupted straight segments of the main jets. The detectability of the counterjets in these quasars may therefore be strongly influenced by interactions between the underlying beams and inhomogeneities in the surrounding material. We offer a new empirical definition of the term 'hot spot' that is intended to improve the distinction between such features and 'jet knots.' Both the compactness of hot spots and their position in the lobe are affected by whether they are fed by a detectable jet. When the hot spots differ significantly in compactness, the more compact one is always on the jetted side. Jetted hot spots are also more likely to be recessed deeply from the outer edge of their lobes than are their counterjetted counterparts.

Astronomical Journal, 108, 766-820 (1994)

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