A Revised View of the Linear Polarization in the Subparsec Core of M87 at 7 mm

Jongho Park*, Keiichi Asada, Masanori Nakamura, Motoki Kino, Hung Yi Pu, Kazuhiro Hada, Evgeniya V. Kravchenko, Marcello Giroletti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The linear polarization images of the jet in the giant elliptical galaxy M87 have previously been observed with Very Long Baseline Array at 7 mm. They exhibit a complex polarization structure surrounding the optically thick and compact subparsec-scale core. However, given the low level of linear polarization in the core, it is required to verify that this complex structure does not originate from residual instrumental polarization signals in the data. We have performed a new analysis of the same data sets observed in four epochs by using the Generalized Polarization CALibration pipeline (GPCAL). This novel instrumental polarization calibration pipeline overcomes the limitations of LPCAL, a conventional calibration tool used in the previous M87 studies. The resulting images show a compact linear polarization structure with its peak nearly coincident with the total intensity peak, which is significantly different from the results of previous studies. The core linear polarization is characterized as fractional polarization of ∼0.2%-0.6% and polarization angles of ∼66°-92°, showing moderate variability. We demonstrate that, based on tests with synthetic data sets, LPCAL using calibrators having complex polarization structures cannot achieve sufficient calibration accuracy to obtain the true polarization image of M87 due to a breakdown of the "similarity approximation."We find that GPCAL obtains more accurate D-terms than LPCAL by using observed closure traces of calibrators that are insensitive to both antenna gain and polarization leakage corruptions. This study suggests that polarization imaging of very weakly polarized sources has become possible with the advanced instrumental polarization calibration techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number180
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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