We present an extensive study of the BL Lac object Mrk 501 based on a data set collected during the multi-instrument campaign spanning from 2009 March 15 to 2009 August 1 which includes, among other instruments, MAGIC, VERITAS, Whipple 10-m, Fermi-LAT, RXTE, Swift, GASP-WEBT and VLBA. We find an increase in the fractional variability with energy, while no significant interband correlations of flux changes are found in the acquired data set. The higher variability in the very high energy (>100 GeV, VHE) gamma-ray emission and the lack of correlation with the X-ray emission indicate that the highest-energy electrons that are responsible for the VHE gamma-rays do not make a dominant contribution to the ~1 keV emission. Alternatively, there could be a very variable component contributing to the VHE gamma-ray emission in addition to that coming from the synchrotron self-Compton (SSC) scenarios. The space of SSC model parameters is probed following a dedicated grid-scan strategy, allowing for a wide range of models to be tested and offering a study of the degeneracy of model-to-data agreement in the individual model parameters. We find that there is some degeneracy in both the one-zone and the two-zone SSC scenarios that were probed, with several combinations of model parameters yielding a similar model-to-data agreement, and some parameters better constrained than others. The SSC model grid-scan shows that the flaring activity around 2009 May 22 cannot be modeled adequately with a one-zone SSC scenario, while it can be suitably described within a two-independent-zone SSC scenario. The observation of an electric vector polarization angle rotation coincident with the gamma-ray flare from 2009 May 1 resembles those reported previously for low frequency peaked blazars, hence suggesting that there are many similarities in the flaring mechanisms of blazars with different jet properties.
We present recent optical photometric observations of the blazar OJ 287 taken during September 2015 -- May 2016. Our intense observations of the blazar started in November 2015 and continued until May 2016 and included detection of the large optical outburst in December 2016 that was predicted using the binary black hole model for OJ 287. For our observing campaign, we used a total of 9 ground based optical telescopes of which one is in Japan, one is in India, three are in Bulgaria, one is in Serbia, one is in Georgia, and two are in the USA. These observations were carried out in 102 nights with a total of ~ 1000 image frames in BVRI bands, though the majority were in the R band. We detected a second comparably strong flare in March 2016. In addition, we investigated multi-band flux variations, colour variations, and spectral changes in the blazar on diverse timescales as they are useful in understanding the emission mechanisms. We briefly discuss the possible physical mechanisms most likely responsible for the observed flux, colour and spectral variability.
Among more than fifty blazars detected in very high energy (VHE, E>100GeV) gamma-rays, only three belong to the subclass of Flat Spectrum Radio Quasars (FSRQs). MAGIC observed FSRQ PKS 1510-089 in February-April 2012 during a high activity state in the high energy (HE, E>100 MeV) gamma-ray band observed by AGILE and Fermi. MAGIC observations result in the detection of a source with significance of 6.0 sigma. In agreement with the previous VHE observations of the source, we find no statistically significant variability during the MAGIC observations in daily, weekly or monthly time scales. The other two known VHE FSRQs have shown daily scale to sub-hour variability. We study the multifrequency behaviour of the source at the epoch of MAGIC observation, collecting quasi-simultaneous data at radio and optical (GASP-WEBT and F-Gamma collaborations, REM, Steward, Perkins, Liverpool, OVRO and VLBA telescopes), X-ray (Swift satellite) and HE gamma-ray frequencies. The gamma-ray SED combining AGILE, Fermi and MAGIC data joins smoothly and shows no hint of a break. The multifrequency light curves suggest a common origin for the millimeter radio and HE gamma-ray emission and the HE gamma-ray flaring starts when the new component is ejected from the 43GHz VLBA core. The quasi-simultaneous multifrequency SED is modelled with a one-zone inverse Compton model. We study two different origins of the seed photons for the inverse Compton scattering, namely the infra-red torus and a slow sheath surrounding the jet around the VLBA core. Both models fit the data well. However, the fast HE gamma-ray variability requires that within the modelled large emitting region, there must exist more compact regions. We suggest that these observed signatures would be most naturally explained by a turbulent plasma flowing at a relativistic speed down the jet and crossing a standing conical shock.
Context. The international whole earth blazar telescope (WEBT) consortium planned and carried out three days of intensive micro-variability observations of S5 0716+714 from February 22, 2009 to February 25, 2009. This object was chosen due to its bright apparent magnitude range, its high declination, and its very large duty cycle for micro-variations. Aims. We report here on the long continuous optical micro-variability light curve of 0716+714 obtained during the multi-site observing campaign during which the Blazar showed almost constant variability over a 0.5 magnitude range. The resulting light curve is presented here for the first time. Observations from participating observatories were corrected for instrumental diff?erences and combined to construct the overall smoothed light curve. Methods. Thirty-six observatories in sixteen countries participated in this continuous monitoring program and twenty of them submitted data for compilation into a continuous light curve. The light curve was analyzed using several techniques including Fourier transform, Wavelet and noise analysis techniques. Those results led us to model the light curve by attributing the variations to a series of synchrotron pulses. Results. We have interpreted the observed microvariations in this extended light curve in terms of a new model consisting of individual stochastic pulses due to cells in a turbulent jet which are energized by a passing shock and cool by means of synchrotron emission. We obtained an excellent fit to the 72-hour light curve with the synchrotron pulse model.
We analyze the multifrequency behavior of the quasar 3C 454.3 during three prominent \gamma-ray outbursts: 2009 Autumn, 2010 Spring, and 2010 Autumn. The data reveal a repeating pattern, including a triple flare structure, in the properties of each \gamma-ray outburst, which implies similar mechanism(s) and location for all three events. The multi-frequency behavior indicates that the lower frequency events are co-spatial with the \gamma-ray outbursts, although the \gamma-ray emission varies on the shortest timescales. We determine that the variability from UV to IR wavelengths during an outburst results from a single synchrotron component whose properties do not change significantly over the different outbursts. Despite a general increase in the degree of optical linear polarization during an outburst, the polarization drops significantly at the peak of the \gamma-ray event, which suggests that both shocks and turbulent processes are involved. We detect two disturbances (knots) with superluminal apparent speeds in the parsec-scale jet associated with the outbursts in 2009 Autumn and 2010 Autumn. The kinematic properties of the knots can explain the difference in amplitudes of the \gamma-ray events, while their millimeter-wave polarization is related to the optical polarization during the outbursts. We interpret the multi-frequency behavior within models involving either a system of standing conical shocks or magnetic reconnection events located in the parsec-scale millimeter-wave core of the jet. We argue that \gamma-ray outbursts with variability timescales as short as ~ 3 hr can occur on parsec scales if flares take place in localized regions such as turbulent cells.
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 November 2010. On 2010 November 20 (MJD 55520), 3C 454.3 reached a peak flux (E>100 MeV) of F_gamma(p) = (6.8+-1.0)E-5 ph/cm2/s on a time scale of about 12 hours, more than a factor of 6 higher than the flux of the brightest steady gamma-ray source, the Vela pulsar, and more than a factor of 3 brighter than its previous super-flare on 2009 December 2-3. The multi-wavelength data make a thorough study of the present event possible: 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 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.