Alan Marscher - Boston University

Alan Marscher
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Alan Marscher
Boston University
United States

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (35)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (23)
Astrophysics (7)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (5)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (4)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (1)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (1)

Publications Authored By Alan Marscher

Blazars exhibit flares across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Many $\gamma$-ray flares are highly correlated with flares detected at longer wavelengths; however, a small subset appears to occur in isolation, with little or no correlated variability at longer wavelengths. These "orphan" $\gamma$-ray flares challenge current models of blazar variability, most of which are unable to reproduce this type of behavior. Read More

Low ($\lesssim 3\%$) levels of circular polarization (CP) detected at radio frequencies in the relativistic jets of some blazars can provide insight into the underlying nature of the jet plasma. CP can be produced through linear birefringence, in which initially linearly polarized emission produced in one region of the jet is altered by Faraday rotation as it propagates through other regions of the jet with various magnetic field orientations. Marscher has recently begun a study of jets with such magnetic geometries with the Turbulent Extreme Multi-Zone (TEMZ) model, in which turbulent plasma crossing a standing shock in the jet is represented by a collection of thousands of individual plasma cells, each with distinct magnetic field orientation. Read More

The knowledge of the structure of the magnetic field inside a blazar jet, as deduced from polarization observations at radio to optical wavelengths, is closely related to the formation and propagation of relativistic jets that result from accretion onto supermassive black holes. However, a largely unexplored aspect of the theoretical understanding of radiation transfer physics in blazar jets has been the magnetic field geometry as revealed by the polarized emission and the connection between the variability in polarization and flux across the spectrum. Here, we explore the effects of various magnetic geometries that can exist inside a blazar jet: parallel, oblique, toroidal, and tangled. Read More

We present the first polarimetric space VLBI imaging observations at 22 GHz. BL Lacertae was observed in 2013 November 10 with the RadioAstron space VLBI mission, including a ground array of 15 radio telescopes. The instrumental polarization of the space radio telescope is found to be within 9%, demonstrating the polarimetric imaging capabilities of RadioAstron at 22 GHz. Read More

The occurrence of low-amplitude flux variations in blazars on hourly timescales, commonly known as microvariability, is still a widely debated subject in high-energy astrophysics. Several competing scenarios have been proposed to explain such occurrences, including various jet plasma instabilities leading to the formation of shocks, magnetic reconnection sites, and turbulence. In this letter we present the results of our detailed investigation of a prominent, five-hour-long optical microflare detected during recent WEBT campaign in 2014, March 2-6 targeting the blazar 0716+714. Read More

We present the analysis of the radio jet evolution of the radio galaxy 3C 120 during a period of prolonged gamma-ray activity detected by the Fermi satellite between December 2012 and October 2014. We find a clear connection between the gamma-ray and radio emission, such that every period of gamma-ray activity is accompanied by the flaring of the mm-VLBI core and subsequent ejection of a new superluminal component. However, not all ejections of components are associated with gamma-ray events detectable by Fermi. Read More

Authors: Warren Skidmore, Ian Dell'Antonio, Misato Fukugawa, Aruna Goswami, Lei Hao, David Jewitt, Greg Laughlin, Charles Steidel, Paul Hickson, Luc Simard, Matthias Schöck, Tommaso Treu, Judith Cohen, G. C. Anupama, Mark Dickinson, Fiona Harrison, Tadayuki Kodama, Jessica R. Lu, Bruce Macintosh, Matt Malkan, Shude Mao, Norio Narita, Tomohiko Sekiguchi, Annapurni Subramaniam, Masaomi Tanaka, Feng Tian, Michael A'Hearn, Masayuki Akiyama, Babar Ali, Wako Aoki, Manjari Bagchi, Aaron Barth, Varun Bhalerao, Marusa Bradac, James Bullock, Adam J. Burgasser, Scott Chapman, Ranga-Ram Chary, Masashi Chiba, Michael Cooper, Asantha Cooray, Ian Crossfield, Thayne Currie, Mousumi Das, G. C. Dewangan, Richard de Grijs, Tuan Do, Subo Dong, Jarah Evslin, Taotao Fang, Xuan Fang, Christopher Fassnacht, Leigh Fletcher, Eric Gaidos, Roy Gal, Andrea Ghez, Mauro Giavalisco, Carol A. Grady, Thomas Greathouse, Rupjyoti Gogoi, Puragra Guhathakurta, Luis Ho, Priya Hasan, Gregory J. Herczeg, Mitsuhiko Honda, Masa Imanishi, Hanae Inami, Masanori Iye, Jason Kalirai, U. S. Kamath, Stephen Kane, Nobunari Kashikawa, Mansi Kasliwal, Vishal Kasliwal, Evan Kirby, Quinn M. Konopacky, Sebastien Lepine, Di Li, Jianyang Li, Junjun Liu, Michael C. Liu, Enrigue Lopez-Rodriguez, Jennifer Lotz, Philip Lubin, Lucas Macri, Keiichi Maeda, Franck Marchis, Christian Marois, Alan Marscher, Crystal Martin, Taro Matsuo, Claire Max, Alan McConnachie, Stacy McGough, Carl Melis, Leo Meyer, Michael Mumma, Takayuki Muto, Tohru Nagao, Joan R. Najita, Julio Navarro, Michael Pierce, Jason X. Prochaska, Masamune Oguri, Devendra K. Ojha, Yoshiko K. Okamoto, Glenn Orton, Angel Otarola, Masami Ouchi, Chris Packham, Deborah L. Padgett, Shashi Bhushan Pandey, Catherine Pilachowsky, Klaus M. Pontoppidan, Joel Primack, Shalima Puthiyaveettil, Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Naveen Reddy, Michael Rich, Matthew J. Richter, James Schombert, Anjan Ananda Sen, Jianrong Shi, Kartik Sheth, R. Srianand, Jonathan C. Tan, Masayuki Tanaka, Angelle Tanner, Nozomu Tominaga, David Tytler, Vivian U, Lingzhi Wang, Xiaofeng Wang, Yiping Wang, Gillian Wilson, Shelley Wright, Chao Wu, Xufeng Wu, Renxin Xu, Toru Yamada, Bin Yang, Gongbo Zhao, Hongsheng Zhao

The TMT Detailed Science Case describes the transformational science that the Thirty Meter Telescope will enable. Planned to begin science operations in 2024, TMT will open up opportunities for revolutionary discoveries in essentially every field of astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology, seeing much fainter objects much more clearly than existing telescopes. Per this capability, TMT's science agenda fills all of space and time, from nearby comets and asteroids, to exoplanets, to the most distant galaxies, and all the way back to the very first sources of light in the Universe. Read More

Blazars exhibit flares across the electromagnetic spectrum. Many $\gamma$-ray flares are highly correlated with flares detected at optical wavelengths; however, a small subset appears to occur in isolation, with little or no variability detected at longer wavelengths. These "orphan" $\gamma$-ray flares challenge current models of blazar variability, most of which are unable to reproduce this type of behavior. Read More

A single measurement of linear polarization of a nonthermal source provides direct information about the mean direction and level of ordering of the magnetic field. Monitoring of the polarization in blazars, combined with millimeter-wave VLBI imaging in both total and polarized intensity, has the potential to determine the geometry of the magnetic field. This is a key probe of the physical processes in the relativistic jet, such as ordered field components, turbulence, magnetic reconnections, magnetic collimation and acceleration of the jet flow, particle acceleration, and radiative processes that produce extremely luminous, highly variable nonthermal emission. Read More

The blazar 1156+295 was active at gamma-ray energies, exhibiting three prominent flares during the year 2010. Here, we present results using the combination of broadband (X-ray through mm single dish) monitoring data and radio band imaging data at 43 GHz on the connection of gamma-ray events to the ejections of superluminal components and other changes in the jet of 1156+295. The kinematics of the jet over the interval 2007. Read More

The Global mm-VLBI Array (GMVA) is the highest angular resolution imaging interferometer currently available as a common user facility. It is capable of angular resolutions on the order of 40 microarcseconds. Currently 14 stations in the United States and Europe participate in global 3 mm VLBI observations. Read More

We present $\gamma$-ray, X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light curves of 33 $\gamma$-ray bright blazars over four years that we have been monitoring since 2008 August with multiple optical, ground-based telescopes and the Swift satellite, and augmented by data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other publicly available data from Swift. The sample consists of 21 flat-spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs) and 12 BL Lac objects (BL Lacs). We identify quiescent and active states of the sources based on their $\gamma$-ray behavior. Read More

We extend our approach of modeling spectral energy distribution (SED) and lightcurves of blazars to include external Compton (EC) emission due to inverse Compton scattering of an external anisotropic target radiation field. We describe the time-dependent impact of such seed photon fields on the evolution of multifrequency emission and spectral variability of blazars using a multi-zone time-dependent leptonic jet model, with radiation feedback, in the internal shock model scenario. We calculate accurate EC-scattered high-energy spectra produced by relativistic electrons throughout the Thomson and Klein-Nishina regimes. Read More

The author presents a model for variability of the flux and polarization of blazars in which turbulent plasma flowing at a relativistic speed down a jet crosses a standing conical shock. The shock compresses the plasma and accelerates electrons to energies up to gamma(max) > 1E4 times their rest-mass energy, with the value of gamma(max) determined by the direction of the magnetic field relative to the shock front. The turbulence is approximated in a computer code as many cells, each with a uniform magnetic field whose direction is selected randomly. Read More

An international consortium is presently constructing a beamformer for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile that will be available as a facility instrument. The beamformer will aggregate the entire collecting area of the array into a single, very large aperture. The extraordinary sensitivity of phased ALMA, combined with the extremely fine angular resolution available on baselines to the Northern Hemisphere, will enable transformational new very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) observations in Bands 6 and 7 (1. Read More

We present a study of the central engine in the broad-line radio galaxy 3C120 using a multi-epoch analysis of a deep XMM-Newton observation and two deep Suzaku pointings (in 2012). In order to place our spectral data into the context of the disk-disruption/jet-ejection cycles displayed by this object, we monitor the source in the UV/X-ray bands, and in the radio band. We find three statistically acceptable spectral models, a disk-reflection model, a jet-model and a jet+disk model. Read More

We present observations of a major outburst at centimeter, millimeter, optical, X-ray, and gamma-ray wavelengths of the BL Lacertae object AO 0235+164 in 2008. We analyze the timing of multi-waveband variations in the flux and linear polarization, as well as changes in Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) images at 7mm with ~0.15 milliarcsecond resolution. Read More

Relativistic jets in AGN in general, and in blazars in particular, are the most energetic and among the most powerful astrophysical objects known so far. Their relativistic nature provides them with the ability to emit profusely at all spectral ranges from radio wavelengths to gamma-rays, as well as to vary extremely at time scales from hours to years. Since the birth of gamma-ray astronomy, locating the origin of gamma-ray emission has been a fundamental problem for the knowledge of the emission processes involved. Read More

We present multiwavelength data of the blazar 3C 454.3 obtained during an extremely bright outburst from November 2010 through January 2011. These include flux density measurements with the Herschel Space Observatory at five submillimeter-wave and far-infrared bands, the Fermi Large Area Telescope at gamma-ray energies, Swift at X-ray, ultraviolet (UV), and optical frequencies, and the Submillimeter Array at 1. Read More

We have observed 3C~279 in a gamma-ray flaring state in November 2008. We construct quasi-simultaneous spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of the source for the flaring period of 2008 and during a quiescent period in May 2010. Data have been compiled from observations with Fermi, Swift, RXTE, the VLBA, and various ground-based optical and radio telescopes. Read More

We present the results from an ultra-high-resolution 7mm Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) study of the relativistic jet in the BL Lacertae object OJ287 from 1995 to 2011 containing 136 total intensity images. Analysis of the image sequence reveals a sharp jet-position-angle swing by >100 deg. during [2004,2006], as viewed in the plane of the sky, that we interpret as the crossing of the jet from one side of the line of sight to the other during a softer and longer term swing of the inner jet. Read More

We locate the gamma-ray and lower frequency emission in flares of the BL Lac object AO 0235+164 at >12pc in the jet of the source from the central engine. We employ time-dependent multi-spectral-range flux and linear polarization monitoring observations, as well as ultra-high resolution (~0.15 milliarcsecond) imaging of the jet structure at lambda=7mm. Read More

We introduce MAPCAT, a long-term observing program for "Monitoring of AGN with Polarimetry at the Calar Alto Telescopes". Multi-spectral-range studies are critical to understand some of the most relevant current problems of high energy astrophysics of blazars such as their high energy emission mechanisms and the location of their gamma-ray emission region through event associations across the spectrum. Adding multi-spectral-range polarimetry allows for even more reliable identification of polarized flares across the spectrum in these kind of objects, as well as for more accurate modeling of their magnetic field. Read More

We present multiwavelength spectral analyses of two Fermi-LAT blazars, OJ 287 and 3C 279, that are part of the Boston University multiwaveband polarization program. The data have been compiled from observations with Fermi, RXTE, the VLBA, and various ground-based optical and radio telescopes. We simulate the dynamic spectral energy distributions (SEDs) within the framework of a multi-slice, time-dependent leptonic jet model for blazars, with radiation feedback, in the internal shock scenario. Read More

We report on the location of the gamma-ray emission region in flares of the BL Lacertae object OJ287 at >14pc from the central supermassive black hole. We employ data from multi-spectral range (total flux and linear polarization) monitoring programs combined with sequences of ultra-high-resolution 7mm VLBA images. The correlation between the brightest gamma-ray and mm flares is found to be statistically significant. Read More

Affiliations: 1Yale, 2Boston U., 3Boston U., 4UCSD, 5UCSD, 6UCSD, 7U. Southampton, UK, 8U. Michigan, 9U. Michigan, 10Metsahovi Radio Observatory, Finland, 11Metsahovi Radio Observatory, Finland, 12Boston U., 13Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia, Spain, 14Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia, Spain, 15Lowell Observatory, 16CfA

We present the results of extensive multi-frequency monitoring of the radio galaxy 3C 111 between 2004 and 2010 at X-ray (2.4--10 keV), optical (R band), and radio (14.5, 37, and 230 GHz) wave bands, as well as multi-epoch imaging with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) at 43 GHz. Read More

A possible source of $\gamma$-ray photons observed from the jets of blazars is inverse Compton scattering by relativistic electrons of infrared seed photons from a hot, dusty torus in the nucleus. We use observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope to search for signatures of such dust in the infrared spectra of four $\gamma$-ray bright blazars, the quasars 4C 21.35, CTA102, and PKS 1510$-$089, and the BL Lacertae object ON231. Read More

The source of Faraday rotation in the jet of the radio galaxy 3C120 is analyzed through Very Long Baseline Array observations carried out between 1999 and 2007 at 86, 43, 22, 15, 12, 8, 5, 2, and 1.7 GHz. Comparison of observations from 1999 to 2001 reveals uncorrelated changes in the linear polarization of the underlying jet emission and the Faraday rotation screen: while the rotation measure (RM) remains constant between approximately 2 and 5 mas from the core, the RM-corrected electric vector position angles (EVPAs) of two superluminal components are rotated by almost 90 degrees when compared to other components moving through similar jet locations. Read More

We are leading a comprehensive multi-waveband monitoring program of 34 gamma-ray bright blazars designed to locate the emission regions of blazars from radio to gamma-ray frequencies. The "maps" are anchored by sequences of images in both total and polarized intensity obtained with the VLBA at an angular resolution of ~ 0.1 milliarcseconds. Read More

We combine time-dependent multi-waveband flux and linear polarization observations with sub-milliarcsecond-scale polarimetric images at lambda=7mm of the BL Lacertae-type blazar OJ287 to locate the gamma-ray emission in prominent flares in the jet of the source >14pc from the central engine. We demonstrate a highly significant correlation between the strongest gamma-ray and millimeter-wave flares through Monte-Carlo simulations. The two reported gamma-ray peaks occurred near the beginning of two major mm-wave outbursts, each of which is associated with a linear polarization maximum at millimeter wavelengths. Read More

We present an X-ray image of the BL Lacertae object OJ287 revealing a long jet, curved by 55 degrees and extending 20", or 90 kpc from the nucleus. This de-projects to >1 Mpc based on the viewing angle on parsec scales. Radio emission follows the general X-ray morphology but extends even farther from the nucleus. Read More

Comprehensive VLBI and multi-waveband monitoring indicate that a single superluminal knot can cause a number of gamma-ray flares at different locations. However, the often very rapid variability timescale is a challenge to theoretical models when a given flare (perhaps the majority of those observed) is inferred from observations to lie near the 43 GHz core, parsecs from the central engine. We present some relevant observational results, using the BL Lac object AO 0235+164 as an example. Read More

As part of our comprehensive long-term multi-waveband monitoring of 34 blazars, we followed the activity in the jet of the blazar PKS 1510-089 during major outbursts during the first half of 2009. The most revealing event was a two-month long outburst that featured a number of gamma-ray flares. During the outburst, the position angle of optical linear polarization rotated by about 720 degrees, which implies that a single emission feature was responsible for all of the flares during the outburst. Read More

We present 1.7, 5, 15, 22 and 43 GHz polarimetric multi-epoch VLBA observations of the radio galaxy 3C 120. The higher frequency observations reveal a new component, not visible before April 2007, located 80 mas from the core (which corresponds to a deprojected distance of 140 pc), with a brightness temperature about 600 times higher than expected at such distances. Read More

We present the results of extensive multi-frequency monitoring of the radio galaxy 3C 120 between 2002 and 2007 at X-ray, optical, and radio wave bands, as well as imaging with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). Over the 5 yr of observation, significant dips in the X-ray light curve are followed by ejections of bright superluminal knots in the VLBA images. Consistent with this, the X-ray flux and 37 GHz flux are anti-correlated with X-ray leading the radio variations. Read More

We present results from a multi-year monitoring campaign of the broad-line radio galaxy 3C 120, using the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) for nearly five years of observations. Additionally, we present coincident optical monitoring using data from several ground-based observatories. Both the X-ray and optical emission are highly variable and appear to be strongly correlated, with the X-ray emission leading the optical by 28 days. Read More

Affiliations: 1Ohio Univ., 2Stanford Univ., 3Boston Univ.
Category: Astrophysics

The MAGIC collaboration recently reported the detection of the quasar 3C279 at > 100 GeV gamma-ray energies. Here we present simultaneous optical (BVRI) and X-ray (RXTE PCA) data from the day of the VHE detection and discuss the implications of the snap-shot spectral energy distribution for jet models of blazars. A one-zone synchrotron-self-Compton origin of the entire SED, including the VHE gamma-ray emission can be ruled out. Read More

We report on multi-frequency linear polarization monitoring of 15 active galactic nuclei containing highly relativistic jets with apparent speeds from $\sim$4 $c$ to $>40c$. The measurements were obtained at optical, 1 mm, and 3 mm wavelengths, and at 7 mm with the Very Long Baseline Array. The data show a wide range in degree of linear polarization among the sources, from $<$1% to $>$30%, and interday polarization variability in individual sources. Read More

Affiliations: 1Boston University, 2Boston University, 3Boston University, 4Steward Observatory, 5St. Petersburg State University, 6St. Petersburg State University, 7St. Petersburg State University, 8MMTO, 9Cardiff University
Category: Astrophysics

An 11-day monitoring campaign in late 2005 reveals clear correlation in polarization between the optical emission and the region of the intensity peak (the "pseudocore") at the upstream end of the jet in 43 GHz Very Long Baseline Array images in the highly variable quasar PKS 0420-014. The electric-vector position angle (EVPA) of the pseudocore rotated by about 80 degrees in four VLBA observations over a period of nine days, matching the trend of the optical EVPA. In addition, the 43 GHz EVPAs agree well with the optical values when we correct the former for Faraday rotation. Read More

The X-ray emission from quasars such as 3C273 is generally agreed to arise from Compton scattering of low energy seed photons by relativistic electrons in a relativistic jet oriented close to the line of sight. However there are a number of possible models for the origin of the seed photons. In Paper I (McHardy et al 1999) we showed that the X-ray and IR variability from 3C273 was highly correlated in 1997, with the IR flux leading the X-rays by ~0. Read More

In this paper we extend our approach to modeling multifrequency emission variability from blazars to include external-radiation Compton (ERC) emission and electron energy losses from inverse Compton scattering of seed photons originating outside the jet. We consider seed-photon emission from a dusty molecular torus and the broad line region (BLR) surrounding the central engine. We establish constraints on the properties of the molecular torus and BLR under which synchrotron self-Compton (SSC) emission dominates such that the results obtained in our previous paper are applicable. Read More

We present total and polarized intensity images of 15 active galactic nuclei obtained with the Very Long Baseline Array at 7 mm at 17 epochs from 1998 March to 2001 April. At some epochs the images are accompanied by nearly simultaneous polarization measurements at 3 mm, 1.35/0. Read More

We model rapid variability of multifrequency emission from blazars occurring across the electromagnetic spectrum (from radio to gamma-rays). Lower energy emission is produced by the synchrotron mechanism, whereas higher energy emission is due to inverse Compton scattering of the synchrotron emission. We take into account energy stratification established by particle acceleration at shock fronts and energy losses due to synchrotron emission. Read More