Asymmetry of Jets, Lobe Length and Spectral Index in Quasars

J. Dennett-Thorpe (Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory)
A. H. Bridle (National Radio Astronomy Observatory)
P. A. G. Scheuer (Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory)
R. A. Laing (Royal Greenwich Observatory)
J. P. Leahy (Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratory)


The less depolarized lobe of a radio source is generally the lobe containing the jet (Laing-Garrington correlation) but the less depolarized lobe is also generally that with the flatter radio spectrum (Liu-Pooley correlation). Both effects are strong; taken together, they would imply a correlation between jet side and lobe spectral index, i.e. between an orientation-dependent feature and one which is intrinsic. We test this prediction using detailed spectral imaging of a sample of quasars with well-defined jets and investigate whether the result can be reconciled with the standard interpretation of one-sided jets in terms of relativistic aberration. Our central finding is that the spectrum of high surface brightness regions is flatter on the jet side, but that the spectrum of low surface brightness regions is flatter on the side with the longer lobe. We discuss possible causes for these correlations and favour explanations in terms of relativistic bulk motion in the high surface brightness regions and differential synchrotron ageing in the extended lobe material.

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 289, 753-765 (1997)

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