Radiative Transfer Modeling of Radio-Band Linear Polarization Observations as a Probe of the Physical Conditions in the Jets of γ-Ray Flaring Blazars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • Margo F. Aller
  • Philip A. Hughes
  • Hugh D. Aller
  • Talvikki Hovatta

  • Venkatessh Ramakrishnan

Research units

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Since the mid-1980s the shock-in-jet model has been the preferred paradigm to explain radio-band flaring in blazar jets. We describe our radiative transfer model incorporating relativistically-propagating shocks, and illustrate how the 4.8, 8, and 14.5 GHz linear polarization and total flux density data from the University of Michigan monitoring program, in combination with the model, constrain jet flow conditions and shock attributes. Results from strong Fermi-era flares in 4 blazars with widely-ranging properties are presented. Additionally, to investigate jet evolution on decadal time scales we analyze 3 outbursts in OT 081 spanning nearly 3 decades and find intrinsic changes attributable to flow changes at a common spatial location, or, alternatively, to a change in the jet segment viewed. The model's success in reproducing these data supports a scenario in which relativistic shocks compress a plasma with an embedded passive, initially-turbulent magnetic field, with additional ordered magnetic field components, one of which may be helical.


Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • blazars, shocks, linear polarization, centimeter-band

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