Markos Georganopoulos - UMBC

Markos Georganopoulos
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Markos Georganopoulos

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (24)
Astrophysics (24)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (13)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (5)
High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (1)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (1)

Publications Authored By Markos Georganopoulos

The Chandra X-ray observatory has discovered several dozen anomalously X-ray-bright jets associated with powerful quasars. A popular explanation for the X-ray flux from the knots in these jets is that relativistic synchrotron-emitting electrons inverse-Compton scatter Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) photons to X-ray energies (the IC/CMB model). This model predicts a high gamma-ray flux which should be detectable by the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) for many sources. Read More

The Hubble Space Telescope recently celebrated 25 years of operation. Some of the first images of extragalactic optical jets were taken by HST in the mid-1990s; with time baselines on the order of 20 years and state-of-the-art astrometry techniques, we are now able to reach accuracies in proper-motion measurements on the order of a tenth of a milliarcsecond per year. We present the results of a recent HST program to measure the kiloparsec-scale proper motions of eleven nearby optical jets with Hubble, the first sample of its kind. Read More

We present a multi-wavelength polarimetric and spectral study of M87 jet obtained at sub- arcsecond resolution between 2002 and 2008. The observations include multi-band archival VLA polarimetry data sets along with the HST imaging polarimetry. These observations have better angular resolution than previous work by factors of 2-3 and in addition, allow us to explore the time domain. Read More

Relativistic jets are the most energetic manifestation of the active galactic nucleus (AGN) phenomenon. AGN jets are observed from the radio through gamma-rays and carry copious amounts of matter and energy from the sub-parsec central regions out to the kiloparsec and often megaparsec scale galaxy and cluster environs. While most spatially resolved jets are seen in the radio, an increasing number have been discovered to emit in the optical/near-IR and/or X-ray bands. Read More

The radio galaxy 3C 273 hosts one of the nearest and best-studied powerful quasar jets. Having been imaged repeatedly by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) over the past twenty years, it was chosen for an HST program to measure proper motions in the kiloparsec-scale resolved jets of nearby radio-loud active galaxies. The jet in 3C 273 is highly relativistic on sub-parsec scales, with apparent proper motions up to 15$c$ observed by VLBI (Lister et al. Read More

Distant BL Lacertae objects emit $\gamma$ rays which interact with the extragalactic background light (EBL), creating electron-positron pairs, and reducing the flux measured by ground-based imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes (IACTs) at very-high energies (VHE). These pairs can Compton-scatter the cosmic microwave background, creating a $\gamma$-ray signature at slightly lower energies observable by the \fermi\ Large Area Telescope (LAT). This signal is strongly dependent on the intergalactic magnetic field (IGMF) strength ($B$) and its coherence length ($L_B$). Read More

The Chandra X-ray observatory has discovered dozens of resolved, kiloparsec-scale jets associated with powerful quasars in which the X-ray fluxes are observed to be much higher than the expected level based on the radio-optical synchrotron spectrum. The most popular explanation for the anomalously high and hard X-ray fluxes is that these jets do not decelerate significantly by the kiloparsec scale, but rather remain highly relativistic (Lorentz factors $\Gamma\approx$10). By adopting a small angle to the line-of-sight, the X-rays can thus be explained by inverse Compton upscattering of CMB photons (IC/CMB), where the observed emission is strongly Doppler boosted. Read More

The physical origin of the X-ray emission in powerful quasar jets has been a long-standing mystery. Though these jets start out on the sub-pc scale as highly relativistic flows, we do not have any direct measurement of their speeds on the kpc scale, where the vast distances from the core necessitate in situ particle acceleration. If the jets remain highly relativistic on kpc scales, then the X-rays could be due to inverse-Compton upscattering of CMB photons. Read More

Relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei (AGN) are among the most powerful astrophysical objects discovered to date. Indeed, jetted AGN studies have been considered a prominent science case for SKA, and were included in several different chapters of the previous SKA Science Book (Carilli & Rawlings 2004). Most of the fundamental questions about the physics of relativistic jets still remain unanswered, and await high-sensitivity radio instruments such as SKA to solve them. Read More

The X-ray emission mechanism in large-scale jets of powerful radio quasars has been a source of debate in recent years, with two competing interpretations: either the X-rays are of synchrotron origin, arising from a different electron energy distribution than that producing the radio to optical synchrotron component, or they are due to inverse Compton scattering of cosmic microwave background photons (IC/CMB) by relativistic electrons in a powerful relativistic jet with bulk Lorentz factor Gamma ~ 10-20. These two models imply radically different conditions in the large-scale jet in terms of jet speed, kinetic power, and maximum energy of the particle acceleration mechanism, with important implications for the impact of the jet on the large-scale environment. A large part of the X-ray origin debate has centered on the well-studied source 3C 273. Read More

Since the discovery of kiloparsec-scale X-ray emission from quasar jets, the physical processes responsible for their high-energy emission have been poorly defined. A number of mechanisms are under active debate, including synchrotron radiation, inverse-Comptonized CMB (IC/CMB) emission, and other Comptonization processes. In a number of cases, the optical and X-ray emission of jet regions are inked by a single spectral component, and in those, high- resolution multi-band imaging and polarimetry can be combined to yield a powerful diagnostic of jet emission processes. Read More

Gamma rays from distant blazars interact with the extragalactic background light, creating electron-positron pairs, and reducing the gamma-ray flux measured by ground-based atmospheric Cherenkov gamma-ray telescopes. These pairs can Compton-scatter the cosmic microwave background, creating a gamma-ray signature observable by the Fermi Large Area Telesope (LAT). The signature is also dependent on the intergalactic magnetic field (IGMF), since it can deflect the pairs from our line of sight, reducing the gamma-ray emission. Read More

Black holes generate collimated, relativistic jets which have been observed in gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), microquasars, and at the center of some galaxies (active galactic nuclei; AGN). How jet physics scales from stellar black holes in GRBs to the supermassive ones in AGNs is still unknown. Here we show that jets produced by AGNs and GRBs exhibit the same correlation between the kinetic power carried by accelerated particles and the gamma-ray luminosity, with AGNs and GRBs lying at the low and high-luminosity ends, respectively, of the correlation. Read More

The distance of the Fermi-detected blazar gamma-ray emission site from the supermassive black hole is a matter of active debate. Here we present a method for testing if the GeV emission of powerful blazars is produced within the sub-pc scale broad line region (BLR) or farther out in the pc-scale molecular torus (MT) environment. If the GeV emission takes place within the BLR, the inverse Compton (IC) scattering of the BLR ultraviolet (UV) seed photons that produces the gamma-rays takes place at the onset of the Klein-Nishina regime. Read More

An issue currently under debate in the literature is how far from the black hole is the Fermi-observed GeV emission of powerful blazars emitted. Here we present a diagnostic tool for testing whether the GeV emission site is located within the sub-pc broad emission line (BLR) region or further out in the pc scale molecular torus (MT) environment. Within the BLR the scattering takes place at the onset of the Klein-Nishina regime, causing the electron cooling time to become almost energy independent and as a result, the variation of high-energy emission is expected to be achromatic. Read More

In recent work, we have identified two sub-populations of radio-loud AGN which appear to be distinguished by jet structure, where low-efficiency accreting systems produce `weak' jets which decelerate more rapidly than the `strong' jets of black holes accreting near the Eddington limit. The two classes are comprised of: (1) The weak jet sources, corresponding to FR I radio galaxies, having a decelerating or spine-sheath jet with velocity gradients, and (2) The strong jet sources, having fast, collimated jets, and typically displaying strong emission lines. The dichotomy in the \nu_peak-L_peak plane can be understood as a `broken power sequence' in which jets exist on one branch or the other based on the particular accretion mode. Read More

We present the first collective evidence that Fermi-detected jets of high kinetic power (L_kin) are dominated by inverse Compton emission from upscattered external photons. Using a sample with a broad range in orientation angle, including radio galaxies and blazars, we find that very high power sources (L_kin > 10^45.5 erg s^{-1}) show a significant increase in the ratio of inverse Compton to synchrotron power (Compton dominance) with decreasing orientation angle, as measured by the radio core dominance and confirmed by the distribution of superluminal speeds. Read More

In examining a select sample of over 200 blazars of known jet kinetic power (L_kin) and well-characterized SEDs, we found (Meyer et al., 2011) that Intermediate synchrotron-peaking (ISP) blazars may have lower gamma-ray output than high synchrotron-peaking (HSP) blazars of similar L_kin, consistent with our hypothesis that ISP blazars are less-beamed versions of HSP blazars, rather than a distinct population. Further, by using the radio core dominance as a measure of relative beaming, we find that gamma-ray luminosity depends on beaming in a consistent way for blazars ranging over all jet kinetic powers (10^42 - 10^46 ergs/s). Read More

An issue currently under debate in the literature is how far from the black hole is the Fermi-observed GeV emission of powerful blazars emitted. Here we present a clear diagnostic tool for testing whether the GeV emission site is located within the sub-pc broad emission line (BLR) region or further out in the few pc scale molecular torus (MT) environment. Within the BLR the scattering takes place at the onset of the Klein-Nishina regime, causing the electron cooling time to become almost energy independent and as a result, the variation of high-energy emission is expected to be achromatic. Read More

We recently argued (Meyer 2011) that the collective properties of radio loud active galactic nuclei point to the existence of two families of sources, one of powerful sources with single velocity jets and one of weaker jets with significant velocity gradients in the radiating plasma. These families also correspond to different accretion modes and therefore different thermal and emission line intrinsic properties: powerful sources have radiatively efficient accretion disks, while in weak sources accretion must be radiatively inefficient. Here, after we briefly review of our recent work, we present the following findings that support our unification scheme: (i) along the broken sequence of aligned objects, the jet kinetic power increases. Read More

During the last decade, M87's jet has been the site of an extraordinary variability event, with one knot (HST-1) increasing by over a factor 100 in brightness. Variability was also seen on timescales of months in the nuclear flux. Here we discuss the optical-UV polarization and spectral variability of these components, which show vastly different behavior. Read More

We revisit the concept of a blazar sequence that relates the synchrotron peak frequency ({\nu}peak) in blazars with synchrotron peak luminosity (Lpeak, in {\nu}L{\nu}) using a large sample of radio-loud AGN. We present observational evidence that the blazar sequence is formed from two populations in the synchrotron {\nu}peak - Lpeak plane, each forming an upper edge to an envelope of progressively misaligned blazars, and connecting to an adjacent group of radio galaxies having jets viewed at much larger angles to the line of sight. When binned by jet kinetic power (Lkin; as measured through a scaling relationship with extended radio power), we find that radio core dominance decreases with decreasing synchrotron Lpeak, revealing that sources in the envelope are generally more misaligned. Read More

We present deep {\it HST, Chandra, VLA} and {\it ATCA} images of the jets of PKS 0208--512 and PKS 1202--262, which were found in a {\it Chandra} survey of a flux-limited sample of flat-spectrum radio quasars with jets (see Marshall et al., 2005). We discuss in detail their X-ray morphologies and spectra. Read More

We propose a method for setting upper limits to the extragalactic background light (EBL). Our method uses simultaneous {\em Fermi}-LAT and ground-based TeV observations of blazars and is based on the assumption that the intrinsic spectral energy distribution (SED) of TeV blazars lies below the extrapolation of the {\em Fermi}-LAT SED from GeV to TeV energies. By extrapolating the {\em Fermi}-LAT spectrum, which for TeV blazars is practically unattenuated by photon-photon pair production with EBL photons, a firm upper limit on the intrinsic SED at TeV energies is provided. Read More

We present a comprehensive multiband spectral and polarimetric study of the jet of 3C 264 (NGC 3862). Included in this study are three HST optical and ultraviolet polarimetry data sets, along with new and archival VLA radio imaging and polarimetry, a re-analysis of numerous HST broadband data sets from the near infrared to the far ultraviolet, and a Chandra ACIS-S observation. We investigate similarities and differences between optical and radio polarimetry, in both degree of polarization and projected magnetic field direction. Read More

We present new {\it Chandra} observations of the radio galaxy 3C 445, centered on its southern radio hotspot. Our observations detect X-ray emission displaced upstream and to the west of the radio-optical hotspot. Attempting to reproduce both the observed spectral energy distribution (SED) and the displacement, excludes all one zone models. Read More

We present new NICMOS and ACS observations of the quasar jet PKS 0637-752, and we use them, together with existing multiwavelength observations, to produce the most complete spectral coverage of the source to date. We explore the implications of these observations in the context of models for the jet X-ray emission. By relaxing the assumption of equipartition, we undertake an exhaustive study of the parameter space for external Compton off the CMB (EC/CMB) model. Read More

We describe a new method for measuring the extragalactic background light (EBL) through the detection of $\gamma$-ray inverse Compton (IC) emission due to scattering of the EBL photons off relativistic electrons in the lobes of radio galaxies. Our method has no free physical parameters and is a powerful tool when the lobes are characterized by a high energy sharp break or cutoff in their electron energy distribution (EED). We show that such a feature will produce a high energy IC `imprint' of the EBL spectrum in which the radio lobes are embedded, and show how this imprint can be used to derive the EBL. Read More

We present a time-dependent multi-zone code for simulating the variability of Synchrotron-Self Compton (SSC) sources. The code adopts a multi-zone pipe geometry for the emission region, appropriate for simulating emission from a standing or propagating shock in a collimated jet. Variations in the injection of relativistic electrons in the inlet propagate along the length of the pipe cooling radiatively. Read More


Long ignored in blazars because of the dominance of the beamed radiation from the jet, the topic of thermal emissions in these objects is just beginning to be explored. While this emission is weak in most blazars compared to the dominant nonthermal jet components, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that thermal emission is observable even in the most highly beamed objects. The emitting regions, which can include the accretion disk as well as the torus, are key parts of the central engine which also powers the jets. Read More

With the anticipated launch of GLAST, the existing X-ray telescopes, and the enhanced capabilities of the new generation of TeV telescopes, developing tools for modeling the variability of high energy sources such as blazars is becoming a high priority. We point out the serious, innate problems one zone synchrotron-self Compton models have in simulating high energy variability. We then present the first steps toward a multi zone model where non-local, time delayed Synchrotron-self Compton electron energy losses are taken into account. Read More

We present the general notions and observational consequences of the "Supercritical Pile" GRB model; the fundamental feature of this model is a detailed process for the conversion of the energy stored in relativistic protons in the GRB Relativistic Blast Waves (RBW) into relativistic electrons and then into radiation. The conversion is effected through the $p \gamma \to p e^+e^-$ reaction, whose kinematic threshold is imprinted on the GRB spectra to provide a peak of their emitted luminosity at energy \Ep $\sim 1$ MeV in the lab frame. We extend this model to include, in addition to the (quasi--)thermal relativistic post-shock protons an accelerated component of power law form. Read More

The process responsible for the Chandra-detected X-ray emission from the large scale jets of powerful quasars is a matter of ongoing debate. The two main contenders are external Compton (EC) scattering off the cosmic microwave background (CMB) photons (EC/CMB) and synchrotron emission from a population of electrons separate from those producing the radio - IR emission. So far, no clear diagnostics have been presented to distinguish which of the two, if any, is the actual X-ray emission mechanism. Read More

Affiliations: 1JCA/UMBC, 2JCA/UMBC, 3JCA/UMBC, 4STScI, 5STScI, 6RIT, 7RIT, 8Bristol, 9Bristol, 10Bristol, 11Southampton, 12CAS/JHU, 13Torino, 14Manchester
Category: Astrophysics

We present an overview of new HST imaging polarimetry of six nearby radio galaxies with optical jets. These observations triple the number of extragalactic jets with subarcsecond-resolution optical polarimetry. We discuss the polarization characteristics and optical morphology of each jet. Read More

M87 has been recently shown to be a TeV source which is likely to be variable. Based on this, and on contemporaneous optical and X-ray monitoring, we argue that the source of the TeV emission is the core of M87 and not one of two jet knots (HST-1 and A) with X-ray brightness comparable to that of the core. We model the TeV emission in the core as inverse Compton (IC) emission from the base of the jet. Read More

We show that the external Compton (EC) model for the production of the GeV emission in blazars makes specific predictions for the spectrum and variability of those blazars characterized by a high Compton dominance (Compton to synchrotron luminosity ratio). These unavoidable features have not been observed, casting doubt on the validity of this popular model. We argue that synchrotron-self Compton (SSC) models including the higher orders of Compton scattering are more promising, and we briefly discuss the implications of our findings for the geometry of the broad line region (BLR). Read More

Affiliations: 1JCA/UMBC and CAS/JHU, 2SLAC, 3JCA/UMBC and LHEA/GSFC, 4SLAC, 5JCA/UMBC, 6CAS/JHU, 7Alaska/Anchorage, 8CASA/Colorado, 9GEST/UMBC, 10LSW Heidelberg, 11Michigan, 12Michigan, 13CDS Strasbourg
Category: Astrophysics

We report results from {\it XMM-Newton} observations of thirteen X-ray bright BL Lacertae objects, selected from the {\it Einstein} Slew Survey sample. The survey was designed to look for evidence of departures of the X-ray spectra from a simple power law shape (i.e. Read More

We propose a method for estimating the composition, i.e. the relative amounts of leptons and protons, of extragalactic jets which exhibit X-ray bright knots in their kpc scale jets. Read More

A puzzling feature of the {\it Chandra}--detected quasar jets is that their X-ray emission decreases faster along the jet than their radio emission, resulting to an outward increasing radio to X-ray ratio. In some sources this behavior is so extreme that the radio emission peak is located clearly downstream of that of the X-rays. This is a rather unanticipated behavior given that the inverse Compton nature of the X-rays and the synchrotron radio emission are attributed to roughly the same electrons of the jet's non-thermal electron distribution. Read More

The essence of the ``Supercritical Pile'' model is a process for converting the energy stored in the relativistic protons of a Relativistic Blast Wave (RBW) of Lorentz factor $\Gamma$ into electron -- positron pairs of similar Lorentz factor, while at the same time emitting most of the GRB luminosity at an energy $E_p \simeq 1$ MeV. This is achieved by scattering the synchrotron radiation emitted by the RBW in an upstream located ``mirror'' and then re-intercepting it by the RBW. The repeated scatterings of radiation between the RBW and the ``mirror'', along with the threshold of the pair production reaction $p \gamma \to p e^-e^+$, lead to a maximum in the GRB luminosity at an energy $E_p \simeq 1$ MeV, {\sl independent of the value of $\Gamma$}. Read More

I present here a short personal view of our understanding of the Chandra detected knots and hot spots of powerful Fanaroff Rilley (FR) II radio galaxies and quasars in the context of leptonic models. Observations of the knots and hot spots strongly suggest that the jets in these powerful sources retain their relativistic velocities at large scales, all the way to the hot spots. The emission mechanism suggested for the knots of quasars and FR II radio galaxies is external Compton (EC) off the cosmic microwave backgounrd (CMB) from a relativistic flow, while for the hotspots Upstream Compton (UC) scattering from a decelerating relativistic flow. Read More

TeV emission from BL Lacertae (BL) objects is commonly modeled as Synchrotron-Self Compton (SSC) radiation from relativistically moving homogeneous plasma blobs. In the context of these models, the blob Lorentz factors needed to reproduce the corrected for absorption by the diffuse IR background (DIRB) TeV emission are large ($\delta \gtrsim 50$). The main reason for this is that stronger beaming eases the problem of the lack of $\sim$ IR-UV synchrotron seed photons needed to produce the de-absorbed $\sim $ few TeV peak of the spectral energy distribution (SED). Read More

The peak of the de-absorbed energy distribution of the TeV emitting BLs can reach values up to ~10 TeV. In the context of SSC models of relativistic uniformly moving blobs of plasma, such high energy peak emission can be reproduced only by assuming Doppler factors delta ~ 50. However, such high values strongly disagree with the unification of FR I radio galaxies and BLs. Read More

Pairs of radio emitting jets with lengths up to several hundred kiloparsecs emanate from the central region (the `core') of radio loud active galaxies. In the most powerful of them, these jets terminate in the `hotspots', compact high brightness regions, where the jet flow collides with the intergalactic medium (IGM). Although it has long been established that in their inner ($\sim$parsec) regions these jet flows are relativistic, it is still not clear if they remain so at their largest (hundreds of kiloparsec) scales. Read More

We review the broad band properties of X-ray detected hotspots in radio galaxies and quasars. We show that their collective properties can be unified in a framework involving frequency dependent relativistic beaming and varying orientations to the observer's line of sight. The simplest dynamic model consistent with this picture is a slowing-down relativistic flow downstream from the hotspot shock, suggesting that the jet flow remains relativistic to the hotspot distances. Read More

We report the detection at X-rays of the radio/optical hotspot and knots of 3C 303 from a short (15 ksec) Chandra exposure in 2001 March. The X-ray morphology is similar to that of the radio/optical emission with peaks in the X-ray emission found at 5.5''(knot B), 9'' (knot C) and 17'' (hotspot) from the core of 3C 303. Read More

We propose that the internal energy of the GRB blast waves, thought to be stored in the form of relativistic protons co-moving with the blast wave, is converted explosively (i.e. on light crossing time scales) into relativistic electrons of the same Lorentz factor, which are responsible for the production of observed prompt gamma-ray emission of the burst. Read More

We present preliminary results of our work on blazar unification. We assume that all blazars have a broad line region (BLR) and that the size of the BLR scales with the power of the source in a manner similar to that derived through reverberation mapping in radio quiet active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Using a self-consistent emission model that includes particle acceleration we show that according to this scaling, in weak sources like MKN 421, the inverse Compton (IC) scattering losses are dominated by synchrotron-self Compton scattering (SSC), while in powerful sources, like 3C 279, they are dominated by external Compton (EC) scattering of BLR photons. Read More

Blue quasars (BQs) are sources with strong broad emission lines and flat hard X-ray spectra, properties that resemble classical flat spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs), and high peak frequencies and steep soft X-ray spectra, properties that resemble intermediate or high peak frequency BL Lacertae objects(IBLs and HBLs respectively). BQs challenge our understanding of blazar properties in terms of a luminosity sequence, which makes their incorporation into current blazar unification schemes problematic. In this work we show that this situation can be remedied if, in addition to the intrinsic luminosity, the orientation of the blazar jet is explicitly considered. Read More

Affiliations: 1Department of Astronomy, Boston University, 2Department of Astronomy, Boston University
Category: Astrophysics

The bright X-ray selected BL Lacertae object PKS 2155-304 has been the target of two intense multiwavelength campaigns, in November 1991 and in May 1994. Although the spectral energy distributions at both epochs were quite similar, the source exhibited two very distinct variability patterns that cannot be easily reconciled with homogeneous, one-zone jet models. During the first epoch the variability was almost achromatic in amplitude, with a time lag between X-rays and UV of $\approx 3$ h, while during the second epoch the variability amplitude increased as a function of wavelength, with the EUV flare peaking $\approx 1$ day after the X-ray flare. Read More