Faraday rotation as a probe of radio galaxy environment in RMHD AGN jet simulations

L A Jerrim, S S Shabala, P M Yates-Jones, M G H Krause, R J Turner, C S Anderson, G S C Stewart, C Power, P E Rodman

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Abstract

Active galactic nuclei (AGNs) play an integral role in galaxy formation and evolution by influencing galaxies and their environments through radio jet feedback. Historically, interpreting observations of radio galaxies and quantifying radio jet feedback has been challenging due to degeneracies between their physical parameters. In particular, it is well established that different combinations of jet kinetic power and environment density can yield indistinguishable radio continuum properties, including apparent size and Stokes I luminosity. We present an approach to breaking this degeneracy by probing the line-of-sight environment with Faraday rotation. We study this effect in simulations of three-dimensional relativistic magnetohydrodynamic AGN jets in idealized environments with turbulent magnetic fields. We generate synthetic Stokes I emission and Faraday rotation measure (RM) maps, which enable us to distinguish between our simulated sources. We find enhanced RMs near the jet head and lobe edges. We show that increasing the environment density and the average cluster magnetic field strength broadens the distribution of Faraday rotation measure values. We study the depolarization properties of our sources, finding that the hotspot regions depolarize at lower frequencies than the lobes. We quantify the effect of depolarization on the RM distribution, finding that the frequency at which the source is too depolarized to measure the RM distribution accurately is a probe of environmental properties. This technique offers a range of new opportunities for upcoming surveys, including probing radio galaxy environments and determining more accurate estimates of the AGN feedback budget.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberstae1317
Pages (from-to)2532-2550
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume531
Issue number2
Early online date23 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2024

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