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Title: Rapid variability of blazar 3C 279 during flaring states in 2013-2014 with joint FERMI-LAT, NuSTAR, SWIFT, and ground-based multi-wavelength observations

Here we report the results of a multiband observing campaign on the famous blazar 3C 279 conducted during a phase of increased activity from 2013 December to 2014 April, including first observations of it with NuSTAR. The γ-ray emission of the source measured by Fermi-LAT showed multiple distinct flares reaching the highest flux level measured in this object since the beginning of the Fermi mission, with F(E>100 MeV) of 10 -5 photons cm -2 s -1, and with a flux-doubling time scale as short as 2 hr. The γ-ray spectrum during one of the flares was very hard, with an index of Γ γ =1.7±0.1, which is rarely seen in flat-spectrum radio quasars. The lack of concurrent optical variability implies a very high Compton dominance parameter L γ/L syn > 300. Two 1 day NuSTAR observations with accompanying Swift pointings were separated by 2 weeks, probing different levels of source activity. While the 0.5-70 keV X-ray spectrum obtained during the first pointing, and fitted jointly with Swift-XRT is well-described by a simple power law, the second joint observation showed an unusual spectral structure: the spectrum softens by ΔΓ x $$\simeq$$ 0.4 at ~ keV. Modeling the broadband spectral energy distribution during this flare with the standard synchrotron plus inverse-Compton model requires: (1) the location of the γ-ray emitting region is comparable with the broad-line region radius, (2) a very hard electron energy distribution index p $$\simeq$$ 1, (3) total jet power significantly exceeding the accretion-disk luminosity L j/L d ≳ 10, and (4) extremely low jet magnetization with L B/L j ≲ 10 -4. In conclusion, we also find that single-zone models that match the observed γ-ray and optical spectra cannot satisfactorily explain the production of X-ray emission.
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Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: The Astrophysical Journal (Online); Journal Volume: 807; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 1538-4357
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Research Org:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Contributing Orgs:
Fermi-LAT Collaboration
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: