Astrophys. J., 749, 191 (2012/April-3)
Similarity of the optical-infrared and γ-ray time variability of Fermi blazars.
CHATTERJEE R., BAILYN C.D., BONNING E.W., BUXTON M., COPPI P., FOSSATI G., ISLER J., MARASCHI L. and URRY C.M.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present the time variability properties of a sample of six blazars, AO 0235+164, 3C 273, 3C 279, PKS 1510-089, PKS 2155-304, and 3C 454.3, at optical-IR frequencies as well as γ-ray energies. These observations were carried out as a part of the Yale/SMARTS program during 2008-2010 that has followed the variations in emission of the bright Fermi Large Area Telescope monitored blazars in the southern sky with closely spaced observations at BVRJK bands. We find that the optical-near IR variability properties are remarkably similar to those at the γ-ray energies. The discrete auto-correlation functions of the variability of these six blazars at optical-IR and γ-ray energies do not show any periodicity or characteristic timescale. The power spectral density (PSD) functions of the R-band variability of all six blazars are fit well by simple power-law functions with negative slopes such that there is higher amplitude variability on longer timescales. No clear break is identified in the PSD of any of the sources. The average slope of the PSD of R-band variability of these blazars is similar to what was found by the Fermi team for the γ-ray variability of a larger sample of bright blazars. This is consistent with leptonic models where the optical-IR and γ-ray emission is generated by the same population of electrons through synchrotron and inverse Compton processes, respectively. The prominent flares present in the optical-IR as well as the γ-ray light curves of these blazars are predominantly symmetric, i.e., have similar rise and decay timescales, indicating that the long-term variability is dominated by the crossing time of radiation or a disturbance through the emission region rather than by the acceleration or energy-loss timescales of the radiating electrons. For the blazar 3C 454.3, which has the highest-quality light curves, the total energy output, the ratio of γ-ray to optical energy output, and the γ-ray versus optical flux relation differ in the six individual flares observed between 2009 August and December. The results are consistent with the location of a large γ-ray outburst in 3C 454.3 during 2009 December being in the jet at ∼18 pc from the central engine. This poses strong constraints on the models of high-energy emission in the jets of blazars.
black hole physics - galaxies: active - galaxies: jets - quasars: general - quasars: individual: 3C 454.3 - radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
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