Variability of the Centimeter-Submillimeter Spectrum and Polarization of 3C 273 during Outburst

J. A. Stevens, E.I. Robson, W.K. Gear, T.V. Cawthorne, M. Aller, H. Aller, H. Terasranta, M.C.H. Wright

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Centimeter to submillimeter total flux and polarization monitoring data are used to investigate the nature of a prominent flare in the quasar 3C 273 during 1995/6. After removal of the quiescent level, the resulting “flare spectra" are well fitted by a simple homogeneous synchrotron source model, which in turn allows the movement of the self-absorption turnover to be tracked during the flare. Both the flare amplitude/time delay relationship and the overall spectral evolution are qualitatively consistent with existing models. The early evolution of the spectrum is best determined and is shown to be in excellent agreement with the Compton stage of the Marscher & Gear shock model. However, the polarization behavior during the flare is different at millimeter and centimeter wavelengths and the observations are difficult to reconcile with a simple transverse shock. They are, however, consistent with a conical shock for which the observed polarization properties vary with distance along the jet. Such variations may be caused, for example, by a change in cone angle owing to disruption caused by the growing component of the magnetic field parallel to the jet axis or by a moderate change in viewing angle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-191
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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