MOJAVE: X. Parsec-scale Jet Orientation Variations and Superluminal Motion in Active Galactic Nuclei

M. L. Lister, M. F. Aller, H. D. Aller, D. C. Homan, K. I. Kellermann, Y. Y. Kovalev, A. B. Pushkarev, J. L. Richards, E. Ros, T. Savolainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

We describe the parsec-scale kinematics of 200 active galactic nucleus (AGN) jets based on 15 GHz Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) data obtained between 1994 August 31 and 2011 May 1. We present new VLBA 15 GHz images of these and 59 additional AGNs from the MOJAVE and 2 cm Survey programs. Nearly all of the 60 most heavily observed jets show significant changes in their innermost position angle over a 12-16 yr interval, ranging from 10° to 150° on the sky, corresponding to intrinsic variations of ~0.°5 to ~2°. The BL Lac jets show smaller variations than quasars. Roughly half of the heavily observed jets show systematic position angle trends with time, and 20 show indications of oscillatory behavior. The time spans of the data sets are too short compared to the fitted periods (5-12 yr), however, to reliably establish periodicity. The rapid changes and large jumps in position angle seen in many cases suggest that the superluminal AGN jet features occupy only a portion of the entire jet cross section and may be energized portions of thin instability structures within the jet. We have derived vector proper motions for 887 moving features in 200 jets having at least five VLBA epochs. For 557 well-sampled features, there are sufficient data to additionally study possible accelerations. We find that the moving features are generally non-ballistic, with 70% of the well-sampled features showing either significant accelerations or non-radial motions. Inward motions are rare (2% of all features), are slow (
Original languageEnglish
Article number120
Number of pages22
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume146
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • BL Lacertae objects: general
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: jets
  • quasars: general
  • radio continuum: galaxies

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