Physics & Astronomy ETDs

Publication Date

1-31-2013

Abstract

The parsec-scale radio properties of blazars detected by the Large Area Telescope (LAT) on board the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have been investigated using observations with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). Comparisons between LAT and non-LAT detected samples were made using both archival and contemporaneous data. In total, 244 sources were used in the LAT-detected sample. This very large, radio flux-limited sample of active galactic nuclei (AGN) provides insights into the mechanism that produces strong gamma-ray emission. It has been found that LAT-detected BL Lac objects are very similar to the non-LAT BL Lac objects in most properties, although LAT BL Lac objects may have longer jets. The LAT flat spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs) are significantly different from non-LAT FSRQs and are likely extreme members of the FSRQ population. Archival radio data indicated that there was no significant correlation between radio flux density and gamma-ray flux, especially at lower flux levels. However, contemporaneous observations showed a strong correlation. Most of the differences between the LAT and non-LAT populations are related to the cores of the sources, indicating that the gamma-ray emission may originate near the base of the jets (i.e., within a few pc of the central engine). There is some indication that LAT-detected sources may have larger jet opening angles than the non-LAT sources. Strong core polarization is significantly more common among the LAT sources, suggesting that gamma-ray emission is related to strong, uniform magnetic fields at the base of the jets of the blazars. Observations of sources in two epochs indicate that core fractional polarization was higher when the objects were detected by the LAT. The low-synchrotron peaked (LSP) BL Lac object sample shows indications of contamination by FSRQs which happen to have undetectable emission lines. There is evidence that the LSP BL Lac objects are more strongly beamed than the rest of the BL Lac object population.

Degree Name

Physics

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

Physics & Astronomy

First Advisor

Taylor, Gregory

First Committee Member (Chair)

Rand, Richard

Second Committee Member

Loomba, Dinesh

Third Committee Member

Gilmore, Mark

Project Sponsors

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Naval Research Laboratory

Language

English

Keywords

BL Lacertae objects, Active galactic nuclei, Quasars, Astrophysical jets, Gamma ray astronomy.

Document Type

Dissertation

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