Vol 12, No 1

Model-fitting of the kinematics of superluminal components in blazar 3C 279

Shan-Jie Qian


Abstract A precessing jet-nozzle model with a precession period of about 25 yr has been proposed by Qian to interpret the change with time of the ejection position angle of the superluminal components observed using very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) in the blazar 3C 279. We discuss the kinematic properties of six superluminal knots (C3, C4, C7a, C8, C9 and C10) and show that their trajectory, core-distance and apparent speed, derived from VLBI observations, can be consistently well fitted by the model. Their intrinsic Lorentz factors of bulk superluminal motion are thus derived, and the evidence shows no relation between Lorentz factor and the precession phase. Interestingly, for the C7a and C8 knots, the fitted core-distance ranges from ~0.1 mas to ~0.4 mas and for knots C9 and C10 from ~0.2 mas to ~1.0–1.5 mas. For knot C4, its trajectory and apparent velocity are well fitted in the core-distance range from ~1 mas to ~5 mas, taking into account a curvature of the trajectory at core-distance larger than ~3 mas. The consistent fitting of the kinematics of these components clearly demonstrates that the amplitude function and collimation parameter adopted in the precession model are appropriate and applicable for both the inner and outer parts of the jet in 3C 279, but in some cases the jet curvature in the outer parts (or deviation from the model trajectory) needs to be seriously taken into consideration. With the exception of C4, the ejection position angles derived from the precession model are consistent with the values measured by VLBI observations (within about 3° − 6°). Undoubtedly, the consistent interpretation of the kinematics in terms of the precession model for these superluminal components, with their ejection time spanning ~24 yr, significantly expands its applicability and implies that regular patterns of trajectories (or rotating channels) could exist in some periods.


Keywords radio continuum — galaxies: jets — galaxies: kinematics — galaxies: individual (blazar 3C 279)

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