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  1. Mechanisms such as shock acceleration, magnetic reconnection in a kink unstable jet, and extreme turbulence in the jet flow are all expected to produce a distinctive time variability pattern of the X-ray polarization properties of high synchrotron peak blazars (HSP). To determine whether the recently launched Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) can follow the polarization variations induced by different particle acceleration mechanisms in blazar jets, we simulated observations of an HSP blazar variable in terms of the polarization degree and angle according to theoretical predictions. We used the Monte Carlo tool ixpeobssim to create realistic IXPE data products for eachmore »model and for three values of flux (i.e., 1, 5, and 10 × 10 −10 erg s −1 cm −2 ). We generated simulated light curves of the polarization degree and angle by time-slicing the simulated data into arbitrary short time bins. We used an χ 2 test to assess the performance of the observations in detecting the time variability of the polarization properties. In all cases, even when the light curves are diluted in an individual time bin, some degree of polarization is still measurable with IXPE. A series of ~10 ks long observations permits IXPE to follow the time variability of the polarization degree in the case of the shock acceleration model. In the case of the magnetic reconnection model, the nominal injected model provides the best fit of the simulated IXPE data for time bins of ~5–10 ks, depending on the tested flux level. For the TEMZ model, shorter time slices of ~0.5 ks are needed for obtaining a formally good fit of the simulated IXPE data with the injected model. On the other hand, we find that a fit with a constant model provides a χ 2 lower than the fit with the nominal injected model when using time slices of ~20 ks, ~60/70 ks, and ~5 ks for the case of the shock acceleration, magnetic reconnection, and TEMZ model, respectively. In conclusion, provided that the statistics of the observation allows for the slicing of the data in adequately short time bins, IXPE observations of an HSP blazar at a typical flux level can detect the time variability predicted by popular models for particle acceleration in jets. IXPE observations of HSP blazars are a useful tool for addressing the issue of particle acceleration in blazar jets.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
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