H.E.S.S. discovery of VHE γ -rays from the quasar PKS 1510-089

A. Abramowski, F. Acero, F. Aharonian, A. G. Akhperjanian, G. Anton, S. Balenderan, A. Balzer, A. Barnacka, Y. Becherini, J. Becker Tjus, B. Behera, K. Bernlöhr, E. Birsin, J. Biteau, A. Bochow, C. Boisson, J. Bolmont, P. Bordas, J. Brucker, F. BrunP. Brun, T. Bulik, S. Carrigan, S. Casanova, M. Cerruti, P. M. Chadwick, R. C G Chaves, A. Cheesebrough, S. Colafrancesco, G. Cologna, J. Conrad, C. Couturier, M. Dalton, M. K. Daniel, I. D. Davids, B. Degrange, C. Deil, P. Dewilt, H. J. Dickinson, A. Djannati-Ataï, W. Domainko, L. O C Drury, G. Dubus, K. Dutson, J. Dyks, M. Dyrda, K. Egberts, P. Eger, P. Espigat, L. Fallon, C. Farnier, S. Fegan, F. Feinstein, M. V. Fernandes, D. Fernandez, A. Fiasson, G. Fontaine, A. Förster, M. Füßling, M. Gajdus, Y. A. Gallant, T. Garrigoux, H. Gast, B. Giebels, J. F. Glicenstein, B. Glück, D. Göring, M. H. Grondin, M. Grudzińska, S. Häffner, J. D. Hague, J. Hahn, D. Hampf, J. Harris, M. Hauser, S. Heinz, G. Heinzelmann, G. Henri, G. Hermann, A. Hillert, J. A. Hinton, W. Hofmann, P. Hofverberg, M. Holler, D. Horns, A. Jacholkowska, C. Jahn, M. Jamrozy, I. Jung, M. A. Kastendieck, K. Katarzyński, U. Katz, S. Kaufmann, B. Khélifi, S. Klepser, D. Klochkov, W. Kluaniak, T. Kneiske, D. Kolitzus, Nu Komin, K. Kosack, R. Kossakowski, F. Krayzel, P. P. Krüger, H. Laffon, G. Lamanna, J. Lefaucheur, M. Lemoine-Goumard, J. P. Lenain, D. Lennarz, T. Lohse, A. Lopatin, C. C. Lu, V. Marandon, A. Marcowith, J. Masbou, G. Maurin, N. Maxted, M. Mayer, T. J L McComb, M. C. Medina, J. Méhault, U. Menzler, R. Moderski, M. Mohamed, E. Moulin, C. L. Naumann, M. Naumann-Godo, M. De Naurois, D. Nedbal, N. Nguyen, J. Niemiec, S. J. Nolan, S. Ohm, E. De Oña Wilhelmi, B. Opitz, M. Ostrowski, I. Oya, M. Panter, R. D. Parsons, M. Paz Arribas, N. W. Pekeur, G. Pelletier, J. Perez, P. O. Petrucci, B. Peyaud, S. Pita, G. Pühlhofer, M. Punch, A. Quirrenbach, S. Raab, M. Raue, A. Reimer, O. Reimer, M. Renaud, R. De Los Reyes, F. Rieger, J. Ripken, L. Rob, S. Rosier-Lees, G. Rowell, B. Rudak, C. B. Rulten, V. Sahakian, D. A. Sanchez, A. Santangelo, R. Schlickeiser, A. Schulz, U. Schwanke, S. Schwarzburg, S. Schwemmer, F. Sheidaei, J. L. Skilton, H. Sol, G. Spengler, L. Stawarz, R. Steenkamp, C. Stegmann, F. Stinzing, K. Stycz, I. Sushch, A. Szostek, J. P. Tavernet, R. Terrier, M. Tluczykont, C. Trichard, K. Valerius, C. Van Eldik, G. Vasileiadis, C. Venter, A. Viana, P. Vincent, H. J. Völk, F. Volpe, S. Vorobiov, M. Vorster, S. J. Wagner, M. Ward, R. White, A. Wierzcholska, D. Wouters, M. Zacharias, A. Zajczyk, A. A. Zdziarski, A. Zech, H. S. Zechlin

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The quasar PKS 1510-089 (z = 0.361) was observed with the H.E.S.S. array of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes during high states in the optical and GeV bands, to search for very high energy (VHE, defined as E ≥ 0.1 TeV) emission. VHE γ-rays were detected with a statistical significance of 9.2 standard deviations in 15.8 h of H.E.S.S. data taken during March and April 2009. A VHE integral flux of I(0.15 TeV < E < 1.0TeV) = (1.0 ±0.2stat ±0.2sys) ×10-11 cm-2 s-1 is measured. The best-fit power law to the VHE data has a photon index of γ = 5.4 ± 0.7stat ± 0.3sys. The GeV and optical light curves show pronounced variability during the period of H.E.S.S. observations. However, there is insufficient evidence to claim statistically significant variability in the VHE data. Because of its relatively high redshift, the VHE flux from PKS 1510-089 should suffer considerable attenuation in the intergalactic space due to the extragalactic background light (EBL). Hence, the measured γ-ray spectrum is used to derive upper limits on the opacity due to EBL, which are found to be comparable with the previously derived limits from relatively-nearby BL Lac objects. Unlike typical VHE-detected blazars where the broadband spectrum is dominated by nonthermal radiation at all wavelengths, the quasar PKS 1510-089 has a bright thermal component in the optical to UV frequency band. Among all VHE detected blazars, PKS 1510-089 has the most luminous broad line region. The detection of VHE emission from this quasar indicates a low level of γ - γ absorption on the internal optical to UV photon field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA107
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The support of the Namibian authorities and of the University of Namibia in facilitating the construction and operation of H.E.S.S. is gratefully acknowledged, as is the support by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), the Max Planck Society, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the French Ministry for Research, the CNRS-IN2P3 and the Astroparticle Interdisciplinary Programme of the CNRS, the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the IPNP of the Charles University, the Czech Science Foundation, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the South African Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation, and by the University of Namibia. We appreciate the excellent work of the technical support staff in Berlin, Durham, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Palaiseau, Paris, Saclay, and in Namibia in the construction and operation of the equipment. We acknowledge the information provided by the Fermi-LAT collaboration on the Fermi-LAT measured fluxes of PKS 1510−089 during the 2009 flaring episodes, which helped scheduling of the H.E.S.S. observations presented here. This work has been partially supported by the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Astronomy & Cosmic Physics at the University of Heidelberg. We acknowledge the anonymous referee for providing useful suggestions that improved the clarity.


  • Gamma rays: galaxies
  • Infrared: diffuse background
  • Quasars: individual: PKS 1510,089


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