VLBI for Gravity Probe B. II. Monitoring of the Structure of the Reference Sources 3C 454.3, B2250+194, and B2252+172
Ransom, R. R.
Bietenholz, M. F.
Lebach, D. E.
Lederman, J. I.
Ratner, M. I.
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CitationRansom, R. R., N. Bartel, M. F. Bietenholz, D. E. Lebach, J. I. Lederman, P. Luca, M. I. Ratner, and I. I. Shapiro. 2012. “VLBI for Gravity Probe B. II. Monitoring of the Structure of the Reference Sources 3C 454.3, B2250+194, and B2252+172.” The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 201, no. 1: 1-29.
AbstractWe used 8.4 GHz very long baseline interferometry images obtained at up to 35 epochs between 1997 and 2005 to examine the radio structures of the main reference source, 3C 454.3, and two secondary reference sources, B2250+194 and B2252+172, for the guide star for the NASA/Stanford relativity mission Gravity Probe B (GP-B). For one epoch in 2004 May, we also obtained images at 5.0 and 15.4 GHz. The 35 8.4 GHz images for quasar 3C 454.3 conﬁrm a complex, evolving, core-jet structure. We identiﬁed at each epoch a component, C1, near the easternmost edge of the core region. Simulations of the core region showed that C1 is located, on average, 0.18 ± 0.06 mas west of the unresolved “core” identiﬁed in 43 GHz images. We also identiﬁed in 3C 454.3 at 8.4 GHz several additional components that moved away from C1 with proper motions ranging in magnitude between 0.9c and 5c. The detailed motions of the components exhibit two distinct bends in the jet axis located -3 and ∼5.5 mas west of C1. The spectra between 5.0 and 15.4 GHz for the “moving” components are steeper than those for C1. The 8.4 GHz images of B2250+194 and B2252+172, in contrast to those of 3C 454.3, reveal compact structures. The spectrum between 5.0 and 15.4 GHz for B2250+194 is inverted while that for B2252+172 is ﬂat. Based on its position near the easternmost edge of the 8.4 GHz radio structure, close spatial association with the 43 GHz core, and relatively ﬂat spectrum, we believe 3C 454.3 component C1 to be the best choice for the ultimate reference point for the GP-Bguide star. The compact structures and inverted-to-ﬂat spectra of B2250+194 and B2252+172 make these objects valuable secondary reference sources.
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