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Astronomy & Astrophysics



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Context. High-resolution radio observations are ideal for constraining the value of physical parameters in the inner regions of active-galactic-nucleus jets and complement results on multiwavelength (MWL) observations. This study is part of a wider multifrequency campaign targeting the nearby TeV blazar Markarian 421 (z = 0.031), with observations in the sub-mm (SMA), optical/IR (GASP), UV/X-ray (Swift, RXTE, MAXI), and γ rays (Fermi-LAT, MAGIC, VERITAS).
Aims: We investigate the jet's morphology and any proper motions, and the time evolution of physical parameters such as flux densities and spectral index. The aim of our wider multifrequency campaign is to try to shed light on questions such as the nature of the radiating particles, the connection between the radio and γ-ray emission, the location of the emitting regions and the origin of the flux variability.
Methods: We consider data obtained with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) over twelve epochs (one observation per month from January to December 2011) at 15 GHz and 24 GHz. We investigate the inner jet structure on parsec scales through the study of model-fit components for each epoch.
Results: The structure of Mrk 421 is dominated by a compact (~0.13 mas) and bright component, with a one-sided jet detected out to ~10 mas. We identify 5-6 components in the jet that are consistent with being stationary during the 12-month period studied here. Measurements of the spectral index agree with those of other works: they are fairly flat in the core region and steepen along the jet length. Significant flux-density variations are detected for the core component.
Conclusions: From our results, we draw an overall scenario in which we estimate a viewing angle 2° < θ < 5° and a different jet velocity for the radio and the high-energy emission regions, such that the respective Doppler factors are δr ~ 3 and δh.e. ~ 14.