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Published November 21, 2014 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Time correlation between the radio and gamma-ray activity in blazars and the production site of the gamma-ray emission


In order to determine the location of the gamma-ray emission site in blazars, we investigate the time-domain relationship between their radio and gamma-ray emission. Light curves for the brightest detected blazars from the first 3 yr of the mission of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope are cross-correlated with 4 yr of 15 GHz observations from the Owens Valley Radio Observatory 40 m monitoring programme. The large sample and long light-curve duration enable us to carry out a statistically robust analysis of the significance of the cross-correlations, which is investigated using Monte Carlo simulations including the uneven sampling and noise properties of the light curves. Modelling the light curves as red noise processes with power-law power spectral densities, we find that only one of 41 sources with high-quality data in both bands shows correlations with significance larger than 3σ (AO 0235+164), with only two more larger than even 2.25σ (PKS 1502+106 and B2 2308+34). Additionally, we find correlated variability in Mrk 421 when including a strong flare that occurred in 2012 July–September. These results demonstrate very clearly the difficulty of measuring statistically robust multiwavelength correlations and the care needed when comparing light curves even when many years of data are used. This should be a caution. In all four sources, the radio variations lag the gamma-ray variations, suggesting that the gamma-ray emission originates upstream of the radio emission. Continuous simultaneous monitoring over a longer time period is required to obtain high significance levels in cross-correlations between gamma-ray and radio variability in most blazars.

Additional Information

© 2014 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2014 August 26. Received 2014 August 21; in original form 2014 June 20. First published online September 29, 2014. We thank Russ Keeney for his support at OVRO. The OVRO programme is supported in part by NASA grants NNX08AW31G and NNX11A043G and NSF grants AST-0808050 and AST-1109911. TH was supported by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri foundation and Academy of Finland project number 267324. Support from MPIfR for upgrading the OVRO 40 m telescope receiver is acknowledged. WM thanks Jeffrey Scargle, James Chiang, Stefan Larsson, and Iossif Papadakis for discussions. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. The Fermi-LAT Collaboration acknowledges support from a number of agencies and institutes for both development and the operation of the LAT as well as scientific data analysis. These include NASA and DOE in the United States, CEA/Irfu and IN2P3/CNRS in France, ASI and INFN in Italy, MEXT, KEK, and JAXA in Japan, and the K. A. Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, and the National Space Board in Sweden. Additional support from INAF in Italy and CNES in France for science analysis during the operations phase is also gratefully acknowledged. We thank the anonymous referee for constructive comments that greatly improved the presentation of some sections of this paper.

Attached Files

Published - MNRAS-2014-Max-Moerbeck-428-36.pdf

Submitted - 1408.6264v1.pdf


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