Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 477, 4749-4767 (2018/July-2)
On the origin of gamma-rays in Fermi blazars: beyond the broad-line region.
COSTAMANTE L., CUTINI S., TOSTI G., ANTOLINI E. and TRAMACERE A.
Abstract (from CDS):
The gamma-ray emission in broad-line blazars is generally explained as inverse Compton (IC) radiation of relativistic electrons in the jet scattering optical-UV photons from the broad-line region (BLR), the so-called BLR external Compton (EC) scenario. We test this scenario on the Fermi gamma-ray spectra of 106 broad-line blazars detected with the highest significance or largest BLR, by looking for cut-off signatures at high energies compatible with γ-γ interactions with BLR photons. We do not find evidence for the expected BLR absorption. For 2/3 of the sources, we can exclude any significant absorption (τmax < 1), while for the remaining 1/3 the possible absorption is constrained to be 1.5-2 orders of magnitude lower than expected. This result holds also dividing the spectra in high- and low-flux states, and for powerful blazars with large BLR. Only 1 object out of 10 seems compatible with substantial attenuation (τmax > 5). We conclude that for 9 out of 10 objects, the jet does not interact with BLR photons. Gamma-rays seem either produced outside the BLR most of the time, or the BLR is ∼100 x larger than given by reverberation mapping. This means that (i) EC on BLR photons is disfavoured as the main gamma-ray mechanism, versus IC on IR photons from the torus or synchrotron self-Compton; (ii) the Fermi gamma-ray spectrum is mostly intrinsic, determined by the interaction of the particle distribution with the seed-photon spectrum; and (iii) without suppression by the BLR, broad-line blazars can become copious emitters above 100 GeV, as demonstrated by 3C 454.3. We expect the CTA sky to be much richer of broad-line blazars than previously thought.
© 2018 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
Galaxies: active - galaxies: jets - quasars: general - gamma-rays: general
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