From The Astronomer’s Telegram: “New flaring activity in PKS 1510-089”

PKS 1510-089 is a Blazar within the Milky Way Galaxy.

New flaring activity in PKS 1510-089

Subjects: Optical, Gamma Ray, >GeV, Request for Observations, AGN, Blazar, Quasar, Transient

Following the bright flare in PKS 1510-089 reported by the AGILE and Fermi-LAT teams in ATel #3470 and Atel #3473 and reports on activities in the radio band (ATel #3500) the Automatic Telescope for Optical Monitoring (ATOM) recorded an increase in the optical flux of this object on July 24-25 and July 25-26 (JD 2455767.3, 2455768.3) with R band magnitudes of 15.7 and 15.3, respectively. Variations of 25% were recorded on a timescale of one hour.

Motivated by the increased activity of PKS 1510-089 in optical data a preliminary analysis of Fermi/LAT public data indicates that the source reached a gamma-ray (E>200 MeV) peak flux of (4.7 +/- 0.7)e-6 ph cm^-2 s^-1 (statistical uncertainty only) centered on July 25, 2011 12:50 UTC, in an analysis performed with time bins of 4 hours. The source flux then reveals a decreasing trend up to July 26, 06:50 UTC. The corresponding daily averaged flux in the 100 MeV-300 GeV energy range is comparable to the one reported for another flare that occurred in the same source at the beginning of July 2011 (ATel #3473).





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A blazar (blazing quasi-stellar object) is a very compact quasar (quasi-stellar object) associated with a presumed supermassive black hole at the center of an active, giant elliptical galaxy. Blazars are among the most energetic phenomena in the universe and are an important topic in extragalactic astronomy.

Blazars are members of a larger group of active galaxies, also termed active galactic nuclei (AGN). A few rare objects may be “intermediate blazars” that appear to have a mixture of properties from both OVV quasars and BL Lac objects. The name “blazar” was originally coined in 1978 by astronomer Edward Spiegel to denote the combination of these two classes.

Blazars are AGN with a relativistic jet that is pointing in the general direction of the Earth. We observe “down” the jet, or nearly so, and this accounts for the rapid variability and compact features of both types of blazars. Many blazars have apparent superluminal features within the first few parsecs of their jets, probably due to relativistic shock fronts.[1]

The generally accepted picture is that OVV quasars are intrinsically powerful radio galaxies while BL Lac objects are intrinsically weak radio galaxies. In both cases the host galaxies are giant ellipticals.

Alternative models, for example, gravitational microlensing, may account for a few observations of some blazars which are not consistent with the general properties.


So… the importance of this is…. MILKY WAY HAS AN ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEUS!!!


This is not the first time this year this blazar has flared, and I doubt it will be the last. I’ll do more research, and I suggest you do the same!

Keep your head UP!!


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