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A Summary of the Observations of the Twin QSOs, 0957+561 A, B

  • Frederic H. Chaffee (a1), Ray J. Weymann (a2), Marc Davis (a3), Nathaniel P. Carleton (a3), D. Walsh (a4) and R. F. Carswell (a5)...

Abstract

An analysis of all observations of the “twin” QSOs, 0957+561 A, B, to date does not yet allow us to distinguish between their being two nearly identical QSOs or a single QSO split into two images by an intervening gravitational lens. The more identical the two objects are found to be, the more difficult any explanation which postulates the existence of two distinct QSOs becomes. Jodrell Bank and VLA observations reveal additional radio structure to the northeast of the northern QSO image which, if physically associated with a single QSO doubly imaged by a gravitational lens, would itself be imaged weakly to the southwest. More detailed radio mapping should be able to test the existence of such an image.

The VLBI map of Porcas and his collaborators reveals that the radio images corresponding to the optical ones are point sources separated by 6.175 arcsec having an angular extent to less than 20 milliarcseconds, whereas all further radio structure is resolved out.

Optical spectroscopy of the twins reveals two nearly identical sources with indistinguishable emission line redshifts and with absorption line redshifts identical to within 15 km/sec. It is the identity of these optical characteristics which makes all non-gravitational lens hypotheses most difficult.

The most compelling test of the lens hypothesis is the measurement of time variations of the two images at as many wavelengths as possible. If brightness variations of one image are repeated by the other after a time interval determined by the details of the observerlens-QSO geometry (such an interval could be of the order of many months or years) the lens hypothesis would be confirmed. Several observations indicate prior variations of the images, and programs to monitor their relative brightness in the future will be of great importance.

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