Volume 393, Number 1, October I 2002
|Page(s)||89 - 99|
|Section||Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)|
|Published online||18 September 2002|
Variations of the TeV energy spectrum at different flux levels of Mkn 421 observed with the HEGRA system of Cherenkov telescopes
Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Postfach 103980, 69029 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Yerevan Physics Institute, Alikhanian Br. 2, 375036 Yerevan, Armenia
3 Universität Hamburg, Institut für Experimentalphysik, Luruper Chaussee 149, 22761 Hamburg, Germany
4 Universität Kiel, Institut für Experimentelle und Angewandte Physik, Leibnizstraße 15-19, 24118 Kiel, Germany
5 Universität Wuppertal, Fachbereich Physik, Gaußstr. 20, 42097 Wuppertal, Germany
6 Max-Planck-Institut für Physik, Föhringer Ring 6, 80805 München, Germany
7 Universidad Complutense, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain
8 Now at Yale University, PO Box 208101, New Haven, CT 06520-8101, USA
9 On leave from Altai State University, Dimitrov Street 66, 656099 Barnaul, Russia
10 Home institute: University Lodz, Poland
11 Center for Space Research, MIT, Cambridge, MA02139
Corresponding author: D. Horns, Dieter.Horns@mpi-hd.mpg.de
Accepted: 5 July 2002
The nearby BL Lacertae (BL Lac) object Markarian 421 (Mkn 421) at a red shift was observed to undergo strong TeV γ-ray outbursts in the observational periods from December 1999 until May 2001. The time averaged flux level in the 1999/2000 season was 10-11 ph cm-2 s-1, whereas in the 2000/2001 season the average integral flux increased to 10-11 ph cm-2 s-1. Both energy spectra are curved and well fit by a power law with an exponential cut-off energy at TeV. The respective energy spectra averaged over each of the two time periods indicate a spectral hardening for the 2000/2001 spectrum. The photon index changes from for 1999/2000 to in 2000/2001. The energy spectra derived for different average flux levels ranging from 0.5 to 10 10-11 ph cm-2 s-1 follow a clear correlation of photon index and flux level. Generally, the energy spectra are harder for high flux levels. From January to April 2001 Mkn 421 showed rapid variability (doubling time as short as 20 min), accompanied with a spectral hardening with increasing flux level within individual nights. For two successive nights (MJD 51989-51991, March 21-23, 2001), this correlation of spectral hardness and change in flux has been observed within a few hours. The cut-off energy for the Mkn 421 TeV spectrum remains within the errors constant for the different flux levels and differs by TeV from the value determined for Mkn 501. This indicates that the observed exponential cut-off in the energy spectrum of Mkn 421 is not solely caused by absorption of multi-TeV photons by pair-production processes with photons of the extragalactic near/mid infrared background radiation.
Key words: gamma rays: observations / BL Lacertae objects: individual: Mkn 421
© ESO, 2002
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