Radio-optical scrutiny of compact AGN: correlations between properties of pc-scale jets and optical nuclear emission

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Astronomy & Astrophysics 520,(2010)


Aims. We study the correlations between the VLBA (Very Long Baseline Array) radio emission at 15 GHz, extended emission at 151 MHz, and optical nuclear emission at 5100 angstrom for a complete sample of 135 compact jets. Methods. We use the partial Kendall's tau correlation analysis to check the link between radio properties of parsec-scale jets and optical nuclear luminosities of host active galactic nuclei (AGN). Results. We find a significant positive correlation for 99 quasars between optical nuclear luminosities and total radio (VLBA) luminosities of unresolved cores at 15 GHz originated at milliarcseconds scales. For 18 BL Lacs, the optical continuum emission correlates with the radio emission of the jet at 15GHz. We suggest that the radio and optical emission are beamed and originate in the innermost part of the sub-parsec-scale jet in quasars. Analysis of the relation between the apparent speed of the jet and the optical nuclear luminosity at 5100 angstrom supports the relativistic beaming model for the optical emission generated in the jet, and allows the peak values of the intrinsic optical luminosity of the jet and its Lorentz factor to be estimated for the populations of quasars (2 x 10(20) W Hz(-1) and gamma = 52), BL Lacs (9 x 10(21) W Hz(-1) and gamma = 20), and radio galaxies (1.5 x 10(21) W Hz(-1) and gamma = 9). The radio-loudness of quasars (the ratio of 15GHz flux density and optical nuclear flux at 5100 angstrom) is found to increase at high redshifts, which is interpreted as progressively higher Doppler factors in radio regime compared to those in optical. A strong positive correlation is found between the intrinsic kinetic power of the jet (measured from the flux density at 151 MHz) and the apparent luminosities of the total and the unresolved core emission of the jet at 15GHz. This correlation is interpreted in terms of an intrinsically more luminous parsec-scale jet producing more luminous extended structure, which is detectable at low radio frequencies, 151 MHz. A possibility that the low frequency radio emission is relativistically beamed in superluminal sources and therefore correlates with radio luminosity of the jet at 15 GHz cannot be ruled out. Monitoring of superluminal AGN in a wide range of frequencies is required to check the contribution of each effect.

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