8-12 juin, 2014


Through the Ring of Fire: A Study of the Origin of Orphan Gamma-ray Flares in Blazars

Nicholas MacDonald (Boston University)

Alan Marscher (Boston University) Svetlana Jorstad (Boston University and St. Petersburg University) Manasvita Joshi (Boston University)

Blazars exhibit flares across the electromagnetic spectrum. Many gamma-ray flares are highly correlated with flares detected at optical wavelengths; however, a small subset appear to occur in isolation, with no counterpart in the other wave bands. These "orphan" gamma-ray flares challenge current models of blazar variability, most of which are unable to reproduce this type of behavior. We present numerical calculations of the time variable emission of a blazar based on a proposal by Marscher et al. (2010) to explain such events. In this model, a plasmoid ("blob") consisting of a power-law distribution of electrons propagates relativistically along the spine of a blazar jet and passes through a synchrotron emitting ring of electrons representing a shocked portion of the jet sheath. This ring supplies a source of seed photons that are inverse-Compton scattered by the electrons in the moving blob. As the blob approaches the ring, the photon density in the co-moving frame of the plasma increases, resulting in an orphan gamma-ray flare that then dissipates as the blob passes through and then moves away from the ring. The model includes the effects of radiative cooling and a spatially varying magnetic field. Support for the plausibility of this model is provided by observations by Marscher et al. (2010) of an isolated gamma-ray flare that was correlated with the passage of a superluminal knot through the inner jet of quasar PKS 1510-089. Synthetic light-curves produced by this new model are compared to the observed light-curves from this event. In addition, we present polarimetric observations that point to the existence of a jet sheath in the quasar 3C 273. A rough estimate of the bolometric luminosity of the sheath results in a value of ~10^45 erg s^-1 (~ 10% of the jet luminosity). This inferred sheath luminosity indicates that the jet sheath in 3C 273 can provide a significant source of seed photons that need to be taken into account when modeling the non-thermal emission due to inverse-Compton scattering processes.
(doit être confirmé par le SOC)