Document Type

Article

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Disciplines

Astrophysics and Astronomy | External Galaxies | Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy

CIT Disciplines

1.3 PHYSICAL SCIENCES

Publication Details

Astrophysical Journal Letters

Abstract

We present optical, X-ray, high-energy (30 GeV) and very high energy (100 GeV; VHE) observations of the high-frequency peaked blazar Mrk 421 taken between 2008 May 24 and June 23. A high-energy γ-ray signal was detected by AGILE with between June 9 and 15, with F(E>100 MeV) = 42+14 –12 × 10–8 photons cm–2 s–1. This flaring state is brighter than the average flux observed by EGRET by a factor of ~3, but still consistent with the highest EGRET flux. In hard X-rays (20-60 keV) SuperAGILE resolved a five-day flare (June 9-15) peaking at ~55 mCrab. SuperAGILE, RXTE/ASM and Swift/BAT data show a correlated flaring structure between soft and hard X-rays. Hints of the same flaring behavior are also detected in the simultaneous optical data provided by the GASP-WEBT. A Swift/XRT observation near the flaring maximum revealed the highest 2-10 keV flux ever observed from this source, of 2.6 × 10–9 erg cm–2 s–1 (i.e. >100 mCrab). A peak synchrotron energy of ~3 keV was derived, higher than typical values of ~0.5-1 keV. VHE observations with MAGIC and VERITAS between June 6 and 8 showed the flux peaking in a bright state, well correlated with the X-rays. This extraordinary set of simultaneous data, covering a 12-decade spectral range, allowed for a deep analysis of the spectral energy distribution as well as of correlated light curves. The γ-ray flare can be interpreted within the framework of the synchrotron self-Compton model in terms of a rapid acceleration of leptons in the jet.

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