Multiwavelength observations of a dramatic high-energy flare in the blazar 3C 279

A. E. Wehrle, E. Pian, C. M. Urry, L. Maraschi, I. M. Mchardy, A. J. Lawson, G. Ghisellini, R. C. Hartman, G. M. Madejski, F. Makino, A. P. Marscher, S. J. Wagner, J. R. Webb, G. S. Aldering, M. F. Aller, H. D. Aller, D. E. Backman, T. J. Balonek, P. Boltwood, J. BonnellJ. Caplinger, A. Celotti, W. Collmar, J. Dalton, A. Drucker, R. Falomo, C. E. Fichtel, W. Freudling, W. K. Gear, N. Gonzalez-Perez, P. Hall, H. Inoue, W. N. Johnson, D. Kazanas, M. R. Kidger, T. Kii, R. I. Kollgaard, Y. Kondo, J. Kurfess, Y. C. Lin, B. Mccollum, K. Mcnaron-Brown, F. Nagase, A. D. Nair, S. Penton, J. E. Pesce, M. Pohl, C. M. Raiteri, M. Renda, E. I. Robson, R. M. Sambruna, A. F. Schirmer, C. Shrader, M. Sikora, A. Sillanpää, P. S. Smith, J. A. Stevens, J. Stocke, L. O. Takalo, H. Teräsranta, D. J. Thompson, Rodger I Thompson, M. Tornikoski, G. Tosti, A. Treves, P. Turcotte, S. C. Unwin, E. Valtaoja, M. Villata, W. Xu, A. Yamashita, A. Zook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

169 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The blazar 3C 279, one of the brightest identified extragalactic objects in the γ-ray sky, underwent a large (factor of ∼10 in amplitude) flare in γ-rays toward the end of a 3 week pointing by Comptait Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), in 1996 January-February. The flare peak represents the highest γ-ray intensity ever recorded for this object. During the high state, extremely rapid γ-ray variability was seen, including an increase of a factor of 2.6 in ∼8 hr, which strengthens the case for relativistic beaming. Coordinated multifrequency observations were carried out with Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA; or, Astro-D), Roentgen Satellite (ROSAT), and International Ultraviolet Explorer (WE) and from many ground-based observatories, covering most accessible wavelengths. The well-sampled, simultaneous RXTE light curve shows an outburst of lower amplitude (factor of ≃3) well correlated with the γ-ray flare without any lag larger than the temporal resolution of ∼1 day. The optical-UV light curves, which are not well sampled during the high-energy flare, exhibit more modest variations (factor of ∼2) and a lower degree of correlation. The flux at millimetric wavelengths was near a historical maximum during the γ-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 γ-rays vary by more than the square of the observed IR-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 time-scale of a few days. This occurs naturally in the "mirror" 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 γ-ray energies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-187
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume497
Issue number1 PART I
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

flares
rays
observatory
wavelength
energy
astrophysics
cosmology
outburst
X Ray Timing Explorer
light curve
timescale
ROSAT mission
synchrotrons
Gamma Ray Observatory
IUE
photons
spectral energy distribution
temporal resolution
wavelengths
suggestion

Keywords

  • Galaxies: photometry
  • Gamma rays: observations
  • Quasars: individual (3C 279)
  • Radiation mechanisms: nonthermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Wehrle, A. E., Pian, E., Urry, C. M., Maraschi, L., Mchardy, I. M., Lawson, A. J., ... Zook, A. (1998). Multiwavelength observations of a dramatic high-energy flare in the blazar 3C 279. Astrophysical Journal, 497(1 PART I), 178-187. https://doi.org/10.1086/305461

Multiwavelength observations of a dramatic high-energy flare in the blazar 3C 279. / Wehrle, A. E.; Pian, E.; Urry, C. M.; Maraschi, L.; Mchardy, I. M.; Lawson, A. J.; Ghisellini, G.; Hartman, R. C.; Madejski, G. M.; Makino, F.; Marscher, A. P.; Wagner, S. J.; Webb, J. R.; Aldering, G. S.; Aller, M. F.; Aller, H. D.; Backman, D. E.; Balonek, T. J.; Boltwood, P.; Bonnell, J.; Caplinger, J.; Celotti, A.; Collmar, W.; Dalton, J.; Drucker, A.; Falomo, R.; Fichtel, C. E.; Freudling, W.; Gear, W. K.; Gonzalez-Perez, N.; Hall, P.; Inoue, H.; Johnson, W. N.; Kazanas, D.; Kidger, M. R.; Kii, T.; Kollgaard, R. I.; Kondo, Y.; Kurfess, J.; Lin, Y. C.; Mccollum, B.; Mcnaron-Brown, K.; Nagase, F.; Nair, A. D.; Penton, S.; Pesce, J. E.; Pohl, M.; Raiteri, C. M.; Renda, M.; Robson, E. I.; Sambruna, R. M.; Schirmer, A. F.; Shrader, C.; Sikora, M.; Sillanpää, A.; Smith, P. S.; Stevens, J. A.; Stocke, J.; Takalo, L. O.; Teräsranta, H.; Thompson, D. J.; Thompson, Rodger I; Tornikoski, M.; Tosti, G.; Treves, A.; Turcotte, P.; Unwin, S. C.; Valtaoja, E.; Villata, M.; Xu, W.; Yamashita, A.; Zook, A.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 497, No. 1 PART I, 1998, p. 178-187.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wehrle, AE, Pian, E, Urry, CM, Maraschi, L, Mchardy, IM, Lawson, AJ, Ghisellini, G, Hartman, RC, Madejski, GM, Makino, F, Marscher, AP, Wagner, SJ, Webb, JR, Aldering, GS, Aller, MF, Aller, HD, Backman, DE, Balonek, TJ, Boltwood, P, Bonnell, J, Caplinger, J, Celotti, A, Collmar, W, Dalton, J, Drucker, A, Falomo, R, Fichtel, CE, Freudling, W, Gear, WK, Gonzalez-Perez, N, Hall, P, Inoue, H, Johnson, WN, Kazanas, D, Kidger, MR, Kii, T, Kollgaard, RI, Kondo, Y, Kurfess, J, Lin, YC, Mccollum, B, Mcnaron-Brown, K, Nagase, F, Nair, AD, Penton, S, Pesce, JE, Pohl, M, Raiteri, CM, Renda, M, Robson, EI, Sambruna, RM, Schirmer, AF, Shrader, C, Sikora, M, Sillanpää, A, Smith, PS, Stevens, JA, Stocke, J, Takalo, LO, Teräsranta, H, Thompson, DJ, Thompson, RI, Tornikoski, M, Tosti, G, Treves, A, Turcotte, P, Unwin, SC, Valtaoja, E, Villata, M, Xu, W, Yamashita, A & Zook, A 1998, 'Multiwavelength observations of a dramatic high-energy flare in the blazar 3C 279', Astrophysical Journal, vol. 497, no. 1 PART I, pp. 178-187. https://doi.org/10.1086/305461
Wehrle AE, Pian E, Urry CM, Maraschi L, Mchardy IM, Lawson AJ et al. Multiwavelength observations of a dramatic high-energy flare in the blazar 3C 279. Astrophysical Journal. 1998;497(1 PART I):178-187. https://doi.org/10.1086/305461
Wehrle, A. E. ; Pian, E. ; Urry, C. M. ; Maraschi, L. ; Mchardy, I. M. ; Lawson, A. J. ; Ghisellini, G. ; Hartman, R. C. ; Madejski, G. M. ; Makino, F. ; Marscher, A. P. ; Wagner, S. J. ; Webb, J. R. ; Aldering, G. S. ; Aller, M. F. ; Aller, H. D. ; Backman, D. E. ; Balonek, T. J. ; Boltwood, P. ; Bonnell, J. ; Caplinger, J. ; Celotti, A. ; Collmar, W. ; Dalton, J. ; Drucker, A. ; Falomo, R. ; Fichtel, C. E. ; Freudling, W. ; Gear, W. K. ; Gonzalez-Perez, N. ; Hall, P. ; Inoue, H. ; Johnson, W. N. ; Kazanas, D. ; Kidger, M. R. ; Kii, T. ; Kollgaard, R. I. ; Kondo, Y. ; Kurfess, J. ; Lin, Y. C. ; Mccollum, B. ; Mcnaron-Brown, K. ; Nagase, F. ; Nair, A. D. ; Penton, S. ; Pesce, J. E. ; Pohl, M. ; Raiteri, C. M. ; Renda, M. ; Robson, E. I. ; Sambruna, R. M. ; Schirmer, A. F. ; Shrader, C. ; Sikora, M. ; Sillanpää, A. ; Smith, P. S. ; Stevens, J. A. ; Stocke, J. ; Takalo, L. O. ; Teräsranta, H. ; Thompson, D. J. ; Thompson, Rodger I ; Tornikoski, M. ; Tosti, G. ; Treves, A. ; Turcotte, P. ; Unwin, S. C. ; Valtaoja, E. ; Villata, M. ; Xu, W. ; Yamashita, A. ; Zook, A. / Multiwavelength observations of a dramatic high-energy flare in the blazar 3C 279. In: Astrophysical Journal. 1998 ; Vol. 497, No. 1 PART I. pp. 178-187.
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abstract = "The blazar 3C 279, one of the brightest identified extragalactic objects in the γ-ray sky, underwent a large (factor of ∼10 in amplitude) flare in γ-rays toward the end of a 3 week pointing by Comptait Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), in 1996 January-February. The flare peak represents the highest γ-ray intensity ever recorded for this object. During the high state, extremely rapid γ-ray variability was seen, including an increase of a factor of 2.6 in ∼8 hr, which strengthens the case for relativistic beaming. Coordinated multifrequency observations were carried out with Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA; or, Astro-D), Roentgen Satellite (ROSAT), and International Ultraviolet Explorer (WE) and from many ground-based observatories, covering most accessible wavelengths. The well-sampled, simultaneous RXTE light curve shows an outburst of lower amplitude (factor of ≃3) well correlated with the γ-ray flare without any lag larger than the temporal resolution of ∼1 day. The optical-UV light curves, which are not well sampled during the high-energy flare, exhibit more modest variations (factor of ∼2) and a lower degree of correlation. The flux at millimetric wavelengths was near a historical maximum during the γ-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 γ-rays vary by more than the square of the observed IR-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 time-scale of a few days. This occurs naturally in the {"}mirror{"} 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 γ-ray energies.",
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language = "English (US)",
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TY - JOUR

T1 - Multiwavelength observations of a dramatic high-energy flare in the blazar 3C 279

AU - Wehrle, A. E.

AU - Pian, E.

AU - Urry, C. M.

AU - Maraschi, L.

AU - Mchardy, I. M.

AU - Lawson, A. J.

AU - Ghisellini, G.

AU - Hartman, R. C.

AU - Madejski, G. M.

AU - Makino, F.

AU - Marscher, A. P.

AU - Wagner, S. J.

AU - Webb, J. R.

AU - Aldering, G. S.

AU - Aller, M. F.

AU - Aller, H. D.

AU - Backman, D. E.

AU - Balonek, T. J.

AU - Boltwood, P.

AU - Bonnell, J.

AU - Caplinger, J.

AU - Celotti, A.

AU - Collmar, W.

AU - Dalton, J.

AU - Drucker, A.

AU - Falomo, R.

AU - Fichtel, C. E.

AU - Freudling, W.

AU - Gear, W. K.

AU - Gonzalez-Perez, N.

AU - Hall, P.

AU - Inoue, H.

AU - Johnson, W. N.

AU - Kazanas, D.

AU - Kidger, M. R.

AU - Kii, T.

AU - Kollgaard, R. I.

AU - Kondo, Y.

AU - Kurfess, J.

AU - Lin, Y. C.

AU - Mccollum, B.

AU - Mcnaron-Brown, K.

AU - Nagase, F.

AU - Nair, A. D.

AU - Penton, S.

AU - Pesce, J. E.

AU - Pohl, M.

AU - Raiteri, C. M.

AU - Renda, M.

AU - Robson, E. I.

AU - Sambruna, R. M.

AU - Schirmer, A. F.

AU - Shrader, C.

AU - Sikora, M.

AU - Sillanpää, A.

AU - Smith, P. S.

AU - Stevens, J. A.

AU - Stocke, J.

AU - Takalo, L. O.

AU - Teräsranta, H.

AU - Thompson, D. J.

AU - Thompson, Rodger I

AU - Tornikoski, M.

AU - Tosti, G.

AU - Treves, A.

AU - Turcotte, P.

AU - Unwin, S. C.

AU - Valtaoja, E.

AU - Villata, M.

AU - Xu, W.

AU - Yamashita, A.

AU - Zook, A.

PY - 1998

Y1 - 1998

N2 - The blazar 3C 279, one of the brightest identified extragalactic objects in the γ-ray sky, underwent a large (factor of ∼10 in amplitude) flare in γ-rays toward the end of a 3 week pointing by Comptait Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), in 1996 January-February. The flare peak represents the highest γ-ray intensity ever recorded for this object. During the high state, extremely rapid γ-ray variability was seen, including an increase of a factor of 2.6 in ∼8 hr, which strengthens the case for relativistic beaming. Coordinated multifrequency observations were carried out with Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA; or, Astro-D), Roentgen Satellite (ROSAT), and International Ultraviolet Explorer (WE) and from many ground-based observatories, covering most accessible wavelengths. The well-sampled, simultaneous RXTE light curve shows an outburst of lower amplitude (factor of ≃3) well correlated with the γ-ray flare without any lag larger than the temporal resolution of ∼1 day. The optical-UV light curves, which are not well sampled during the high-energy flare, exhibit more modest variations (factor of ∼2) and a lower degree of correlation. The flux at millimetric wavelengths was near a historical maximum during the γ-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 γ-rays vary by more than the square of the observed IR-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 time-scale of a few days. This occurs naturally in the "mirror" 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 γ-ray energies.

AB - The blazar 3C 279, one of the brightest identified extragalactic objects in the γ-ray sky, underwent a large (factor of ∼10 in amplitude) flare in γ-rays toward the end of a 3 week pointing by Comptait Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), in 1996 January-February. The flare peak represents the highest γ-ray intensity ever recorded for this object. During the high state, extremely rapid γ-ray variability was seen, including an increase of a factor of 2.6 in ∼8 hr, which strengthens the case for relativistic beaming. Coordinated multifrequency observations were carried out with Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA; or, Astro-D), Roentgen Satellite (ROSAT), and International Ultraviolet Explorer (WE) and from many ground-based observatories, covering most accessible wavelengths. The well-sampled, simultaneous RXTE light curve shows an outburst of lower amplitude (factor of ≃3) well correlated with the γ-ray flare without any lag larger than the temporal resolution of ∼1 day. The optical-UV light curves, which are not well sampled during the high-energy flare, exhibit more modest variations (factor of ∼2) and a lower degree of correlation. The flux at millimetric wavelengths was near a historical maximum during the γ-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 γ-rays vary by more than the square of the observed IR-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 time-scale of a few days. This occurs naturally in the "mirror" 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 γ-ray energies.

KW - Galaxies: photometry

KW - Gamma rays: observations

KW - Quasars: individual (3C 279)

KW - Radiation mechanisms: nonthermal

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