Reference: A.U. Abeysekara et al. (The VERITAS Collaboration and multi-wavelength partners), Astrophysical Journal 890: 97, 2020
Contacts: Lucy Fortson
We report on variability and correlation studies using multiwavelength observations of the blazar Mrk 421 during the month of February, 2010 when an extraordinary flare reaching a level of ~27 Crab Units above 1 TeV was measured in very-high-energy (VHE) γ-rays with the VERITAS observatory. This is the highest flux state for Mrk 421 ever observed in VHE γ-rays. Data are analyzed from a coordinated campaign across multiple instruments including VHE γ-ray (VERITAS, MAGIC), high-energy (HE) γ-ray (Fermi-LAT), X-ray (Swift, RXTE, MAXI), optical (including the GASP-WEBT collaboration and polarization data) and radio (Metsähovi, OVRO, UMRAO). Light curves are produced spanning multiple days before and after the peak of the VHE flare, including over several flare `decline' epochs. The main flare statistics allow 2-minute time bins to be constructed in both the VHE and optical bands enabling a cross-correlation analysis that shows evidence for an optical lag of ~25-55 minutes, the first time-lagged correlation between these bands reported on such short timescales. Limits on the Doppler factor (δ≳33) and the size of the emission region (δ−1RB≲3.8×1013 cm) are obtained from the fast variability observed by VERITAS during the main flare. Analysis of 10-minute-binned VHE and X-ray data over the decline epochs shows an extraordinary range of behavior in the flux-flux relationship: from linear to quadratic to lack of correlation to anti-correlation. Taken together, these detailed observations of an unprecedented flare seen in Mrk 421 are difficult to explain by the classic single-zone synchrotron self-Compton model.
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