Detection of extended polarized ultraviolet radiation from the 2 = 1.82 radio galaxy 3c 256

Gary D. Schmidt, Paul S. Smith, Buell T. Jannuzi, Richard Elston, H. S. Stockman

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21 Scopus citations


We have detected spatially extended linear polarized UV emission from the high-redshift radio galaxy 3C 256 (2 = 1.82). A spatially integrated (7"8 diameter aperture) measurement of the degree of polarization of the L-band (rest frame 0.19 im) emission yields a value of 16.4% (±2.2%) with a position angle of 42$4 (±3$9), orthogonal to the position angle on the sky of the major axis of the extended emission. The peak emission measured with a 3"6 diameter circular aperture is 11.7% (±1.5%) polarized with a position angle of 42$4 (±3$6). An image of the polarized flux is presented, clearly displaying that the polarized flux is extended and present over the entire extent of the object. While it has been suggested that the UV continuum of 3C 256 might be due to star formation (see paper by Elston) or a protogalaxy (see paper by Eisenhardt and Dickinson) based on its extremely blue spectral energy distribution and similar morphology at UV and visible wavelengths, we are unable to reconcile the observed high degree of polarization with such a model. While the detection of polarized emission from HZRGs has been shown to be a common phenomena, 3C 256 is only the third object for which a measurement of the extended polarized UV emission has been presented. These data lend additional support to the suggestion first made by di Serego Alighieri and collaborators that the “alignment effect, ” the tendency for the extended UV continuum radiation and line emission from HZRGs to be aligned with the major axis of the extended radio emission, is in large part due to scattering of anisotropic nuclear emission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L111-L115
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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