Rapid TeV gamma-ray flaring of BL Lacertae

T. Arlen, T. Aune, M. Beilicke, W. Benbow, A. Bouvier, J. H. Buckley, V. Bugaev, A. Cesarini, L. Ciupik, M. P. Connolly, W. Cui, R. Dickherber, J. Dumm, M. Errando, A. Falcone, S. Federici, Q. Feng, J. P. Finley, G. Finnegan, L. FortsonA. Furniss, N. Galante, D. Gall, S. Griffin, J. Grube, G. Gyuk, D. Hanna, J. Holder, T. B. Humensky, P. Kaaret, N. Karlsson, M. Kertzman, Y. Khassen, D. Kieda, H. Krawczynski, F. Krennrich, G. Maier, P. Moriarty, R. Mukherjee, T. Nelson, A. O'Faoláin De Bhróithe, R. A. Ong, M. Orr, N. Park, J. S. Perkins, A. Pichel, M. Pohl, H. Prokoph, J. Quinn, K. Ragan

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Abstract

We report on the detection of a very rapid TeV gamma-ray flare from BL Lacertae on 2011 June 28 with the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS). The flaring activity was observed during a 34.6 minute exposure, when the integral flux above 200 GeV reached (3.4 ± 0.6) × 10-6 photons m-2 s-1, roughly 125% of the Crab Nebula flux measured by VERITAS. The light curve indicates that the observations missed the rising phase of the flare but covered a significant portion of the decaying phase. The exponential decay time was determined to be 13 ± 4 minutes, making it one of the most rapid gamma-ray flares seen from a TeV blazar. The gamma-ray spectrum of BL Lacertae during the flare was soft, with a photon index of 3.6 ± 0.4, which is in agreement with the measurement made previously by MAGIC in a lower flaring state. Contemporaneous radio observations of the source with the Very Long Baseline Array revealed the emergence of a new, superluminal component from the core around the time of the TeV gamma-ray flare, accompanied by changes in the optical polarization angle. Changes in flux also appear to have occurred at optical, UV, and GeV gamma-ray wavelengths at the time of the flare, although they are difficult to quantify precisely due to sparse coverage. A strong flare was seen at radio wavelengths roughly four months later, which might be related to the gamma-ray flaring activities. We discuss the implications of these multiwavelength results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume762
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2013

Keywords

  • galaxies: active
  • gamma rays: galaxies

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