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Title: A peculiar multiwavelength flare in the blazar 3C 454.3

Abstract

The blazar 3C 454.3 exhibited a strong flare seen in γ-rays, X-rays and optical/near-infrared bands during 2009 December 3–12. Emission in the V and J bands rose more gradually than did the γ-rays and soft X-rays, though all peaked at nearly the same time. Optical polarization measurements showed dramatic changes during the flare, with a strong anticorrelation between optical flux and degree of polarization (which rose from ~3 to ~20 percent) during the declining phase of the flare. The flare was accompanied by large rapid swings in polarization angle of ~170°. This combination of behaviours appears to be unique. We have cm-band radio data during the same period but they show no correlation with variations at higher frequencies. Such peculiar behaviour may be explained using jet models incorporating fully relativistic effects with a dominant source region moving along a helical path or by a shock-in-jet model incorporating three-dimensional radiation transfer if there is a dominant helical magnetic field. We find that spectral energy distributions at different times during the flare can be fit using modified one-zone models where only the magnetic field strength and particle break frequencies and normalizations need change. An optical spectrum taken at nearly the same timemore » provides an estimate for the central black hole mass of ~2.3 × 10 9 M . Furthermore, we also consider two weaker flares seen during the ~200 d span over which multiband data are available. In one of them, the V and J bands appear to lead the γ-ray and X-ray bands by a few days; in the other, all variations are simultaneous.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [5];  [7];  [8];  [9];  [5];  [10];  [11];  [12];  [13];  [14];  [14];  [15];  [16];  [15] more »;  [15];  [16];  [17] « less
  1. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai (China); Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital (India)
  2. Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore (India)
  3. The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ (United States); SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
  4. Univ. of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo (Brazil)
  5. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai (China)
  6. Ohio Univ., Athens, OH (United States)
  7. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai (China); Univ. of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing (China)
  8. Inter Univ. Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune (India)
  9. Peking Univ., Beijing (China)
  10. Hiroshima Univ., Higashi-Hiroshima (Japan)
  11. Kyoto Univ., Kyoto (Japan)
  12. Radio Astronomy Lab. of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, Crimea (Ukraine); Taras Shevchenko National Univ. of Kyiv, Kiev (Ukraine)
  13. Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital (India)
  14. Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
  15. Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia (Bulgaria)
  16. Aalto Univ., Aalto (Finland)
  17. Radio Astronomy Lab. of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, Crimea (Ukraine); Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kiev (Ukraine)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1410601
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-76SF00515
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 472; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0035-8711
Publisher:
Royal Astronomical Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; BL Lacertae objects: general; galaxies:active; quasars: individual: 3C 454.3

Citation Formats

Gupta, Alok C., Mangalam, Arun, Wiita, Paul J., Kushwaha, P., Gaur, H., Zhang, H., Gu, M. F., Liao, M., Dewangan, G. C., Ho, L. C., Mohan, P., Umeura, M., Sasada, M., Volvach, A. E., Agarwal, A., Aller, M. F., Aller, H. D., Bachev, R., Lähteenmäki, A., Semkov, E., Strigachev, A., Tornikoski, M., and Volvach, L. N. A peculiar multiwavelength flare in the blazar 3C 454.3. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx2072.
Gupta, Alok C., Mangalam, Arun, Wiita, Paul J., Kushwaha, P., Gaur, H., Zhang, H., Gu, M. F., Liao, M., Dewangan, G. C., Ho, L. C., Mohan, P., Umeura, M., Sasada, M., Volvach, A. E., Agarwal, A., Aller, M. F., Aller, H. D., Bachev, R., Lähteenmäki, A., Semkov, E., Strigachev, A., Tornikoski, M., & Volvach, L. N. A peculiar multiwavelength flare in the blazar 3C 454.3. United States. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx2072.
Gupta, Alok C., Mangalam, Arun, Wiita, Paul J., Kushwaha, P., Gaur, H., Zhang, H., Gu, M. F., Liao, M., Dewangan, G. C., Ho, L. C., Mohan, P., Umeura, M., Sasada, M., Volvach, A. E., Agarwal, A., Aller, M. F., Aller, H. D., Bachev, R., Lähteenmäki, A., Semkov, E., Strigachev, A., Tornikoski, M., and Volvach, L. N. 2017. "A peculiar multiwavelength flare in the blazar 3C 454.3". United States. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx2072.
@article{osti_1410601,
title = {A peculiar multiwavelength flare in the blazar 3C 454.3},
author = {Gupta, Alok C. and Mangalam, Arun and Wiita, Paul J. and Kushwaha, P. and Gaur, H. and Zhang, H. and Gu, M. F. and Liao, M. and Dewangan, G. C. and Ho, L. C. and Mohan, P. and Umeura, M. and Sasada, M. and Volvach, A. E. and Agarwal, A. and Aller, M. F. and Aller, H. D. and Bachev, R. and Lähteenmäki, A. and Semkov, E. and Strigachev, A. and Tornikoski, M. and Volvach, L. N.},
abstractNote = {The blazar 3C 454.3 exhibited a strong flare seen in γ-rays, X-rays and optical/near-infrared bands during 2009 December 3–12. Emission in the V and J bands rose more gradually than did the γ-rays and soft X-rays, though all peaked at nearly the same time. Optical polarization measurements showed dramatic changes during the flare, with a strong anticorrelation between optical flux and degree of polarization (which rose from ~3 to ~20 percent) during the declining phase of the flare. The flare was accompanied by large rapid swings in polarization angle of ~170°. This combination of behaviours appears to be unique. We have cm-band radio data during the same period but they show no correlation with variations at higher frequencies. Such peculiar behaviour may be explained using jet models incorporating fully relativistic effects with a dominant source region moving along a helical path or by a shock-in-jet model incorporating three-dimensional radiation transfer if there is a dominant helical magnetic field. We find that spectral energy distributions at different times during the flare can be fit using modified one-zone models where only the magnetic field strength and particle break frequencies and normalizations need change. An optical spectrum taken at nearly the same time provides an estimate for the central black hole mass of ~2.3 × 109 M⊙. Furthermore, we also consider two weaker flares seen during the ~200 d span over which multiband data are available. In one of them, the V and J bands appear to lead the γ-ray and X-ray bands by a few days; in the other, all variations are simultaneous.},
doi = {10.1093/mnras/stx2072},
journal = {Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society},
number = 1,
volume = 472,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 8
}

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  • We present the gamma-ray data of the extraordinary flaring activity above 100 MeV from the flat spectrum radio quasar 3C 454.3 detected by AGILE during the month of 2009 December. 3C 454.3, which has been among the most active blazars of the FSRQ type since 2007, has been detected in the gamma-ray range with a progressively rising flux since 2009 November 10. The gamma-ray flux reached a value comparable with that of the Vela pulsar on 2009 December 2. Remarkably, between 2009 December 2 and 3, the source more than doubled its gamma-ray emission and became the brightest gamma-ray sourcemore » in the sky with a peak flux of F {sub {gamma},p} = (2000 {+-} 400) x 10{sup -8} ph cm{sup -2} s{sup -1} for a 1 day integration above 100 MeV. The gamma-ray intensity decreased in the following days with the source flux remaining at large values near F {sub {gamma}} {approx_equal} (1000 {+-} 200) x 10{sup -8} ph cm{sup -2} s{sup -1} for more than a week. This exceptional gamma-ray flare dissipated among the largest ever detected intrinsic radiated power in gamma-rays above 100 MeV (L {sub {gamma},source,peak} {approx_equal} 3 x 10{sup 46} erg s{sup -1}, for a relativistic Doppler factor of {delta} {approx_equal} 30). The total isotropic irradiated energy of the month-long episode in the range 100 MeV-3 GeV is E {sub {gamma},iso} {approx_equal} 10{sup 56} erg. We report the intensity and spectral evolution of the gamma-ray emission across the flaring episode. We briefly discuss the important theoretical implications of our detection.« less
  • We report the detection of a statistically significant flare-like event in the Mg II {lambda}2800 emission line of 3C 454.3 during the outburst of autumn 2010. The highest levels of emission line flux recorded over the monitoring period (2008-2011) coincide with a superluminal jet component traversing through the radio core. This finding crucially links the broad emission line fluctuations to the non-thermal continuum emission produced by relativistically moving material in the jet and hence to the presence of broad-line region clouds surrounding the radio core. If the radio core were located at several parsecs from the central black hole, thenmore » our results would suggest the presence of broad-line region material outside the inner parsec where the canonical broad-line region is envisaged to be located. We briefly discuss the implications of broad emission line material ionized by non-thermal continuum in the context of virial black hole mass estimates and gamma-ray production mechanisms.« less
  • The blazar 3C 279, one of the brightest identified extragalactic objects in the {gamma}-ray sky, underwent a large (factor of {approximately}10 in amplitude) flare in {gamma}-rays toward the end of a 3 week pointing by {ital Compton Gamma Ray} Observatory (CGRO), in 1996 January{endash}February. The flare peak represents the highest {gamma}-ray intensity ever recorded for this object. During the high state, extremely rapid {gamma}-ray variability was seen, including an increase of a factor of 2.6 in {approximately}8 hr, which strengthens the case for relativistic beaming. Coordinated multifrequency observations were carried out with {ital Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Advanced Satellitemore » for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA; or, Astro-D), Roentgen Satellite (ROSAT),} and {ital International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE)} and from many ground-based observatories, covering most accessible wavelengths. The well-sampled, simultaneous {ital RXTE} light curve shows an outburst of lower amplitude (factor of {approx_equal}3) well correlated with the {gamma}-ray flare without any lag larger than the temporal resolution of {approximately}1 day. The optical-UV light curves, not well sampled during the high-energy flare, exhibit more modest variations (factor of {approximately}2) and a lower degree of correlation. The flux at millimetric wavelengths was near a historical maximum during the {gamma}-ray flare peak, and there is a suggestion of a correlated decay. We present simultaneous spectral energy distributions of 3C 279 prior to and near to the flare peak. The {gamma}-rays vary by more than the square of the observed IR{endash}optical flux change, which poses some problems for specific blazar emission models. The synchrotron self-Compton (SSC) model would require that the largest synchrotron variability occurred in the mostly unobserved submillimeter/far-infrared region. Alternatively, a large variation in the external photon field could occur over a timescale of a few days. This occurs naturally in the {open_quotes}mirror{close_quotes} model, wherein the flaring region in the jet photoionizes nearby broad emission line clouds, which, in turn, provide soft external photons that are Comptonized to {gamma}-ray energies. {copyright} {ital 1998.} {ital The American Astronomical Society}« less
  • We monitored the flaring blazar 3C 454.3 during 2005 June-July with the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS: 15 epochs), Infrared Array Camera (IRAC: 12 epochs), and Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS: 2 epochs). We also made Spitzer IRS, IRAC, and MIPS observations from 2006 December to 2007 January when the source was in a low state, the latter simultaneous with a single Chandra X-ray observation. In addition, we present optical and submillimeter (sub-mm) monitoring data. The 2005-2007 period saw three major outbursts. We present evidence that the radio-optical spectral energy distribution (SED) actually consists of two variable synchrotron peaks, the primary atmore » IR and the secondary at sub-mm wavelengths. The lag between the optical and sub-mm outbursts may indicate that these two peaks arise from two distinct regions along the jet separated by a distance of 0.9-3 pc. The flux at 5-35 {mu}m varied by a factor of 40 and the IR peak varied in frequency from 4 x 10{sup 12} Hz to 4 x 10{sup 13} Hz between the highest and lowest states in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Variability was well correlated across the mid-IR band, with no measurable lag. Flares that doubled in flux occurred on a timescale of {approx}5 days, yielding a variability size of <0.05 pc. The IR SED peak moved to higher frequency as a flare brightened, then returned to lower frequency as it decayed. The fractional variability amplitude increased with frequency, which we attribute to decreasing synchrotron self-absorption optical depth. Mid-IR flares may signal the re-energization of a shock that runs into inhomogeneities along the pre-existing jet or in the external medium. The synchrotron peak frequencies during each major outburst may depend upon both the distance from the jet apex and the physical conditions in the shocks. Variation of the Doppler parameter along a curved or helical jet is another possibility. Frequency variability of the IR synchrotron peak may have important consequences for the interpretation of the blazar sequence, and the presence of a secondary peak may give insight into jet structure.« less
  • Since 2005, the blazar 3C 454.3 has shown remarkable flaring activity at all frequencies, and during the last four years it has exhibited more than one {gamma}-ray flare per year, becoming the most active {gamma}-ray blazar in the sky. We present for the first time the multi-wavelength AGILE, Swift, INTEGRAL, and GASP-WEBT data collected in order to explain the extraordinary {gamma}-ray flare of 3C 454.3 which occurred in 2010 November. On 2010 November 20 (MJD 55520), 3C 454.3 reached a peak flux (E >100 MeV) of F{sup p}{sub {gamma}} = (6.8 {+-} 1.0) x 10{sup -5} photons cm{sup -2} s{supmore » -1} on a timescale of about 12 hr, more than a factor of six higher than the flux of the brightest steady {gamma}-ray source, the Vela pulsar, and more than a factor of three brighter than its previous super-flare on 2009 December 2-3. The multi-wavelength data make possible a thorough study of the present event: the comparison with the previous outbursts indicates a close similarity to the one that occurred in 2009. By comparing the broadband emission before, during, and after the {gamma}-ray flare, we find that the radio, optical, and X-ray emission varies within a factor of 2-3, whereas the {gamma}-ray flux by a factor of 10. This remarkable behavior is modeled by an external Compton component driven by a substantial local enhancement of soft seed photons.« less