A&A 424, 841-855 (2004)
Observing Mkn 421 with XMM-Newton: The EPIC-PN point of viewM. Ravasio, G. Tagliaferri, G. Ghisellini and F. Tavecchio
INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, via Bianchi 46, 23807 Merate, Italy
(Received 21 October 2003 / Accepted 12 June 2004)
We present three observations (four exposures) of Mkn 421 performed by XMM-Newton in November and December 2002, concentrating on the EPIC-PN camera data. The X-ray spectra were soft and steepened toward high energies. The source was highly variable and the hardness ratio plots displayed a clear harder-when-stronger correlation. During two complete flares the source showed strong spectral evolution: a hardness ratio and a time resolved spectral analysis revealed both clockwise and counterclockwise rotating loop patterns, suggesting the presence of temporal lags between different energy band variations. We confirmed this result and estimated the delay with a cross-correlation analysis performed on the single flares, discussing also variability patterns that could reproduce the asymmetry seen in the cross-correlation function. We verified our findings by reproducing the two flares with analytical models. We obtained consistent results: during one flare, Mkn 421 displayed soft lags, while in the other case it showed hard lags. In both cases, the delay increases with the energy difference between the light curves. Finally, we discuss the presence and the frequency dependence of the temporal lags as an effect of particle acceleration, cooling and escape timescales, showing that our data are consistent with this picture.
Key words: galaxies: BL Lacertae objects: general -- X-rays: galaxies -- galaxies: BL Lacertae objects: individual: Mkn 421
© ESO 2004