The Blazar Envelope and the Relativistic Jet Dichotomy: Unification of Radio-Loud AGN
Doctor of Philosophy
Motivated by recent successes in linking the kinetic power of relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei (AGN) to the low-frequency, isotropic lobe emission, I have re-examined the blazar and radio-loud AGN unification scheme through careful analysis of the four parameters we believe to be fundamental in producing a particular jet spectral energy distribution (SED): the kinetic power, accretion power, accretion mode, and orientation. In particular, I have compiled a multi-wavelength database for hundreds of jet SEDs in order to characterize the jet spectrum by the synchrotron peak output, and have conducted an analysis of the steep lobe emission in blazars in order to determine the intrinsic jet power. This study of the link between power and isotropic emission is likely to have a wider applicability to other types or relativistic jet phenomena, such as microquasars. Based on a well-characterized sample of over 200 sources, I suggest a new unification scheme for radio-loud AGN (Meyer et al. 2011) which compliments evidence that a transition in jet power at a few percent of the Eddington luminosity produces two types of relativistic jet (Ghisellini, et al., 2009). The `broken power sequence' addresses a series of recent findings severely at odds with the previous unification scheme. This scheme makes many testable predictions which will can be addressed with a larger body of data, including a way to determine whether the coupling between accretion and jet power is the currently presumed one-to-one correspondence, or whether accretion power forms an upper bound, as very recent observations suggest (Fernandes et al. 2011). This work is a first step toward a unified understanding of the relativistic jets found in radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGN) and their connection to accretion onto the super-massive black holes from which they emanate.
Radio-loud active galactic nuclei; AGN unification; Blazar population studies; Accretion; Jet power