EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 434, Number 1, April IV 2005
Page(s) 385 - 396
Section On-line catalogs and data
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041789

A&A 434, 385-396 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041789

The sedentary survey of extreme high energy peaked BL Lacs

P. Giommi1, S. Piranomonte1, M. Perri1 and P. Padovani2, 3

1  ASI Science Data Center, ASDC, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana c/o ESRIN, via G. Galilei, 00044 Frascati, Italy
    e-mail: paolo.giommi@asi.it
2  Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
3  Affiliated to the Space Telescope Division of the European Space Agency, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

(Received 4 August 2004 / Accepted 29 November 2004)

The multi-frequency "Sedentary Survey" is a deep, statistically complete, radio flux limited sample comprising 150 BL Lacertae objects distinguished by their extremely high X-ray to radio flux ratio ( $f_{\rm x}/f_{\rm r}$), ranging from five hundred to over five thousand times that of typical BL Lacs discovered in radio surveys. This large excess of high energy photons compared to radio emission is thought to be due to synchrotron radiation that in these sources reaches the UV or the X-ray band. The name "Sedentary Survey" originates from the multi-frequency technique used to select the sample that was expected to be so efficient as to allow the conduction of some preliminary statistical studies even without the need to identify the candidates through optical spectroscopy. The details of the selection criteria and the preliminary results have been published in Giommi et al. (1999, MNRAS, 310, 465). In this paper we present the final, 100% identified, catalog together with the optical, X-ray and broad-band Spectral Energy Distributions (SED) constructed combining literature multi-frequency data with non-simultaneous optical observations and BeppoSAX X-ray data, when available. The SEDs confirm that the peak of the synchrotron power in these objects is located at very high energies. BeppoSAX wide band X-ray observations show that, in most cases, the X-ray spectra are convex and well described by a logarithmic parabola model peaking (in a $\nu f(\nu)~{\rm vs.}~\nu$ representation) between 0.02 to several keV. Although detailed X-ray spectral data are available for only about one fifth of the sources the observed peaks never reach energies well above 10 keV (as in Mkn 501 during the large X-ray flare of April 1997 and in 1ES 2344+514 in December 1996) implying that hard X-ray synchrotron peak energies are rare and probably associated with strong flaring events.

Owing to the high synchrotron energies involved most of the sources in the catalog are likely to be TeV emitters, with the closest and brightest ones probably detectable by the present generation of Cherenkov telescopes. However, only 50% (3 out of 6) of the presently established TeV BL Lacs are actually included in the survey suggesting that the hardest peaks may be associated with secondary synchrotron components that can be detected only above the soft X-ray band. The existence of secondary emission regions is suggested by the strong X-ray spectral curvature that in some objects predicts an optical flux much below the observed emission.

The optical spectrum of about one fourth of the sources is totally featureless hampering any redshift or luminosity determination. Because this implies that the non-thermal nuclear emission must be well above that of the host galaxy, these objects are likely to be the most powerful sources in the survey and therefore be examples of the yet unreported high radio luminosity-high energy peaked BL Lacs. The existence of such objects would be at odds with the claimed inverse proportionality between radio power and synchrotron peak energy known as the "blazar sequence".

At the low-power end of the luminosity dynamical range, where the non-thermal optical continuum falls below the emission from the host galaxy, recognition issues start becoming important since BL Lacs in this luminosity regime can hardly be recognized as such, but rather as radio galaxies or simply as elliptical galaxies. We have found a small sample of bright nearby elliptical galaxies that are candidate low radio power high energy peaked BL Lacs.

Key words: galaxies: BL Lacertae objects: general -- X-rays: galaxies -- galaxies: quasars: general -- surveys

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