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The Astrophysical Journal


We present a comprehensive multi-band spectral and polarimetric study of the jet of 3C 264 (NGC 3862). Included in this study are three Hubble Space Telescope (HST) optical and ultraviolet polarimetry data sets, along with new and archival Very Large Array radio imaging and polarimetry, a re-analysis of numerous HST broadband data sets from the near infrared to the far ultraviolet, and a Chandra ACIS-S observation. We investigate similarities and differences between optical and radio polarimetry, in both degree of polarization and projected magnetic field direction. We also examine the broadband spectral energy distribution of both the nucleus and jet of 3C 264, from the radio through the X-rays. From this, we place constraints on the physics of the 3C 264 system, the jet and its dynamics. We find significant curvature of the spectrum from the near-IR to ultraviolet, and synchrotron breaks steeper than 0.5, a situation also encountered in the jet of M87. This likely indicates velocity and/or magnetic field gradients and more efficient particle acceleration localized in the faster/higher magnetic field parts of the flow. The magnetic field structure of the 3C 264 jet is remarkably smooth; however, we do find complex magnetic field structure that is correlated with changes in the optical spectrum. We find that the X-ray emission is due to the synchrotron process; we model the jet spectrum and discuss mechanisms for accelerating particles to the needed energies, together with implications for the orientation of the jet under a possible spine-sheath model.



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