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Published April 21, 2015 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

A combined radio and GeV γ-ray view of the 2012 and 2013 flares of Mrk 421


In 2012 Markarian 421 underwent the largest flare ever observed in this blazar at radio frequencies. In the present study, we start exploring this unique event and compare it to a less extreme event in 2013. We use 15 GHz radio data obtained with the Owens Valley Radio Observatory 40-m telescope, 95 GHz millimetre data from the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy, and GeV γ-ray data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The radio light curves during the flaring periods in 2012 and 2013 have very different appearances, in both shape and peak flux density. Assuming that the radio and γ-ray flares are physically connected, we attempt to model the most prominent sub-flares of the 2012 and 2013 activity periods by using the simplest possible theoretical framework. We first fit a one-zone synchrotron self-Compton (SSC) model to the less extreme 2013 flare and estimate parameters describing the emission region. We then model the major γ-ray and radio flares of 2012 using the same framework. The 2012 γ-ray flare shows two distinct spikes of similar amplitude, so we examine scenarios associating the radio flare with each spike in turn. In the first scenario, we cannot explain the sharp radio flare with a simple SSC model, but we can accommodate this by adding plausible time variations to the Doppler beaming factor. In the second scenario, a varying Doppler factor is not needed, but the SSC model parameters require fine-tuning. Both alternatives indicate that the sharp radio flare, if physically connected to the preceding γ-ray flares, can be reproduced only for a very specific choice of parameters.

Additional Information

© 2015 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2015 January 29. Received 2015 January 27; in original form 2014 December 3. We thank Bindu Rani, Jeremy Perkins, Dave Thompson, and the anonymous referee for their comments and suggestions that greatly improved the paper. TH was supported by the Academy of Finland project number 267324. M P: Support for this work was provided by NASA through Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship grant number PF3 140113 awarded by the Chandra X-ray Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for NASA under contract NAS8-03060. MB acknowledges support from the International Fulbright Science and Technology Award. The OVRO 40-m monitoring program is supported in part by NASA grants NNX08AW31G and NNX11A043G, and NSF grants AST-0808050 and AST-1109911. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities Inc. Support for CARMA construction was derived from the states of California, Illinois, and Maryland, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, the University of Chicago, the Associates of the California Institute of Technology, and the National Science Foundation. Ongoing CARMA development and operations are supported by the National Science Foundation under a cooperative agreement, and by the CARMA partner universities. The Fermi LAT Collaboration acknowledges generous ongoing support from a number of agencies and institutes that have supported both the development and the operation of the LAT as well as scientific data analysis. These include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Energy in the United States, the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules in France, the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Japan, and the K. A. Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish National Space Board in Sweden. Additional support for science analysis during the operations phase from the following agencies is also gratefully acknowledged: the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy and the Centre National d'Études Spatiales in France.

Attached Files

Published - MNRAS-2015-Hovatta-3121-31.pdf

Submitted - 1501.07407v2.pdf


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