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  1. ABSTRACT

    In 2021 BL Lacertae underwent an extraordinary activity phase, which was intensively followed by the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT) Collaboration. We present the WEBT optical data in the BVRI bands acquired at 36 observatories around the world. In mid-2021 the source showed its historical maximum, with R = 11.14. The light curves display many episodes of intraday variability, whose amplitude increases with source brightness, in agreement with a geometrical interpretation of the long-term flux behaviour. This is also supported by the long-term spectral variability, with an almost achromatic trend with brightness. In contrast, short-term variations are found to be strongly chromatic and are ascribed to energetic processes in the jet. We also analyse the optical polarimetric behaviour, finding evidence of a strong correlation between the intrinsic fast variations in flux density and those in polarization degree, with a time delay of about 13 h. This suggests a common physical origin. The overall behaviour of the source can be interpreted as the result of two mechanisms: variability on time-scales greater than several days is likely produced by orientation effects, while either shock waves propagating in the jet, or magnetic reconnection, possibly induced by kink instabilities in the jet, can explain variability on shorter time-scales. The latter scenario could also account for the appearance of quasi-periodic oscillations, with periods from a few days to a few hours, during outbursts, when the jet is more closely aligned with our line of sight and the time-scales are shortened by relativistic effects.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT

    We report multiwavelength observations of the gravitationally lensed blazar QSO B0218+357 in 2016–2020. Optical, X-ray, and GeV flares were detected. The contemporaneous MAGIC observations do not show significant very high energy (VHE; ≳100 GeV) gamma-ray emission. The lack of enhancement in radio emission measured by The Owens Valley Radio Observatory indicates the multizone nature of the emission from this object. We constrain the VHE duty cycle of the source to be <16 2014-like flares per year (95 per cent confidence). For the first time for this source, a broad-band low-state spectral energy distribution is constructed with a deep exposure up to the VHE range. A flux upper limit on the low-state VHE gamma-ray emission of an order of magnitude below that of the 2014 flare is determined. The X-ray data are used to fit the column density of (8.10 ± 0.93stat) × 1021 cm−2 of the dust in the lensing galaxy. VLBI observations show a clear radio core and jet components in both lensed images, yet no significant movement of the components is seen. The radio measurements are used to model the source-lens-observer geometry and determine the magnifications and time delays for both components. The quiescent emission is modelled with the high-energy bump explained as a combination of synchrotron-self-Compton and external Compton emission from a region located outside of the broad-line region. The bulk of the low-energy emission is explained as originating from a tens-of-parsecs scale jet.

     
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