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  1. Abstract We report on a long-lasting, elevated gamma-ray flux state from VER J0521+211 observed by VERITAS, MAGIC, and Fermi-LAT in 2013 and 2014. The peak integral flux above 200 GeV measured with the nightly binned light curve is (8.8 ± 0.4) × 10 −7 photons m −2 s −1 , or ∼37% of the Crab Nebula flux. Multiwavelength observations from X-ray, UV, and optical instruments are also presented. A moderate correlation between the X-ray and TeV gamma-ray fluxes was observed, and the X-ray spectrum appeared harder when the flux was higher. Using the gamma-ray spectrum and four models of the extragalactic background light (EBL), a conservative 95% confidence upper limit on the redshift of the source was found to be z ≤ 0.31. Unlike the gamma-ray and X-ray bands, the optical flux did not increase significantly during the studied period compared to the archival low-state flux. The spectral variability from optical to X-ray bands suggests that the synchrotron peak of the spectral energy distribution (SED) may become broader during flaring states, which can be adequately described with a one-zone synchrotron self-Compton model varying the high-energy end of the underlying particle spectrum. The synchrotron peak frequency of the SED and themore »radio morphology of the jet from the MOJAVE program are consistent with the source being an intermediate-frequency-peaked BL Lac object.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Context. In February 2017 the blazar OJ 287, one of the best super-massive binary-black-hole-system candidates, was detected for the first time at very high energies (VHEs; E  > 100 GeV) with the ground-based γ -ray observatory VERITAS. Aims. Very high energy γ rays are thought to be produced in the near vicinity of the central engine in active galactic nuclei. For this reason, and with the main goal of providing useful information for the characterization of the physical mechanisms connected with the observed teraelectronvolt flaring event, we investigate the parsec-scale source properties by means of high-resolution very long baseline interferometry observations. Methods. We use 86 GHz Global Millimeter-VLBI Array (GMVA) observations from 2015 to 2017 and combine them with additional multiwavelength radio observations at different frequencies from other monitoring programs. We investigate the source structure by modeling the brightness distribution with two-dimensional Gaussian components in the visibility plane. Results. In the GMVA epoch following the source VHE activity, we find a new jet feature (labeled K) at ∼0.2 mas from the core region and located in between two quasi-stationary components (labeled S1 and S2). Multiple periods of enhanced activity are detected at different radio frequencies before and during the VHE flaringmore »state. Conclusions. Based on the findings of this work, we identify as a possible trigger for the VHE flaring emission during the early months of 2017 the passage of a new jet feature through a recollimation shock (represented by the model-fit component S1) in a region of the jet located at a de-projected distance of ∼10 pc from the radio core.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  3. Context. The response of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes to incident γ -ray-initiated showers in the atmosphere changes as the telescopes age due to exposure to light and weather. These aging processes affect the reconstructed energies of the events and γ -ray fluxes. Aims. This work discusses the implementation of signal calibration methods for the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) to account for changes in the optical throughput and detector performance over time. Methods. The total throughput of a Cherenkov telescope is the product of camera-dependent factors, such as the photomultiplier tube gains and their quantum efficiencies, and the mirror reflectivity and Winston cone response to incoming radiation. This document summarizes different methods to determine how the camera gains and mirror reflectivity have evolved over time and how we can calibrate this changing throughput in reconstruction pipelines for imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes. The implementation is validated against seven years of observations with the VERITAS telescopes of the Crab Nebula, which is a reference object in very-high-energy astronomy. Results. Regular optical throughput monitoring and the corresponding signal calibrations are found to be critical for the reconstruction of extensive air shower images. The proposed implementation is applied as a correctionmore »to the signals of the photomultiplier tubes in the telescope simulation to produce fine-tuned instrument response functions. This method is shown to be effective for calibrating the acquired γ -ray data and for recovering the correct energy of the events and photon fluxes. At the same time, it keeps the computational effort of generating Monte Carlo simulations for instrument response functions affordably low.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  4. Abstract Flat-spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs) are the most luminous blazars at GeV energies but only rarely emit detectable fluxes of TeV gamma rays, typically during bright GeV flares. We explore the gamma-ray variability and spectral characteristics of three FSRQs that have been observed at GeV and TeV energies by Fermi-LAT and VERITAS, making use of almost 100 hr of VERITAS observations spread over 10 yr: 3C 279, PKS 1222+216, and Ton 599. We explain the GeV flux distributions of the sources in terms of a model derived from a stochastic differential equation describing fluctuations in the magnetic field in the accretion disk and estimate the timescales of magnetic flux accumulation and stochastic instabilities in their accretion disks. We identify distinct flares using a procedure based on Bayesian blocks and analyze their daily and subdaily variability and gamma-ray energy spectra. Using observations from VERITAS, as well as Fermi, Swift, and the Steward Observatory, we model the broadband spectral energy distributions of PKS 1222+216 and Ton 599 during very high energy (VHE)–detected flares in 2014 and 2017, respectively, strongly constraining the jet Doppler factors and gamma-ray emission region locations during these events. Finally, we place theoretical constraints on the potential production ofmore »PeV-scale neutrinos during these VHE flares.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  6. Abstract The results of gamma-ray observations of the binary system HESS J0632 + 057 collected during 450 hr over 15 yr, between 2004 and 2019, are presented. Data taken with the atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes H.E.S.S., MAGIC, and VERITAS at energies above 350 GeV were used together with observations at X-ray energies obtained with Swift-XRT, Chandra, XMM-Newton, NuSTAR, and Suzaku. Some of these observations were accompanied by measurements of the H α emission line. A significant detection of the modulation of the very high-energy gamma-ray fluxes with a period of 316.7 ± 4.4 days is reported, consistent with the period of 317.3 ± 0.7 days obtained with a refined analysis of X-ray data. The analysis of data from four orbital cycles with dense observational coverage reveals short-timescale variability, with flux-decay timescales of less than 20 days at very high energies. Flux variations observed over a timescale of several years indicate orbit-to-orbit variability. The analysis confirms the previously reported correlation of X-ray and gamma-ray emission from the system at very high significance, but cannot find any correlation of optical H α parameters with fluxes at X-ray or gamma-ray energies in simultaneous observations. The key finding is that the emission of HESS J0632more »+ 057 in the X-ray and gamma-ray energy bands is highly variable on different timescales. The ratio of gamma-ray to X-ray flux shows the equality or even dominance of the gamma-ray energy range. This wealth of new data is interpreted taking into account the insufficient knowledge of the ephemeris of the system, and discussed in the context of results reported on other gamma-ray binary systems.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  7. Abstract HESS J0632+057 belongs to a rare subclass of binary systems that emit gamma rays above 100 GeV. It stands out for its distinctive high-energy light curve, which features a sharp “primary” peak and broader “secondary” peak. We present the results of contemporaneous observations by NuSTAR and VERITAS during the secondary peak between 2019 December and 2020 February, when the orbital phase ( ϕ ) is between 0.55 and 0.75. NuSTAR detected X-ray spectral evolution, while VERITAS detected TeV emission. We fit a leptonic wind-collision model to the multiwavelength spectra data obtained over the four NuSTAR and VERITAS observations, constraining the pulsar spin-down luminosity and the magnetization parameter at the shock. Despite long-term monitoring of the source from 2019 October to 2020 March, the MDM observatory did not detect significant variation in H α and H β line equivalent widths, an expected signature of Be-disk interaction with the pulsar. Furthermore, fitting folded Swift-XRT light-curve data with an intrabinary shock model constrained the orbital parameters, suggesting two orbital phases (at ϕ D = 0.13 and 0.37), where the pulsar crosses the Be-disk, as well as phases for the periastron ( ϕ 0 = 0.30) and inferior conjunction ( ϕ IFC =more »0.75). The broadband X-ray spectra with Swift-XRT and NuSTAR allowed us to measure a higher neutral hydrogen column density at one of the predicted disk-passing phases.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  8. Hallibert, Pascal ; Hull, Tony B. ; Kim, Daewook ; Keller, Fanny (Ed.)
    The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is the next-generation ground-based observatory for very-high-energy gamma rays. One candidate design for CTA's medium-sized telescopes consists of the Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (SCT), featuring innovative dual-mirror optics. The SCT project has built and is currently operating a 9.7-m prototype SCT (pSCT) at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO); such optical design enables the use of a compact camera with state-of-the art silicon photomultiplier detectors. A partially-equipped camera has recently successfully detected the Crab Nebula with a statistical significance of 8.6 standard deviations. A funded upgrade of the pSCT focal plane sensors and electronics is currently ongoing, which will bring the total number of channels from 1600 to 11328 and the telescope field of view from about 2.7° to 8° . In this work, we will describe the technical and scientific performance of the pSCT.