Signatures of synchrotron emission and of electron acceleration in the X-ray spectra of Mrk 421
Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Piazzale A. Moro 2, 00185 Roma, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, via della Ricerca scientifica 1, 00133 Roma, Italy
Accepted: 31 January 2007
Context.BL Lac objects undergo strong flux variations involving considerable changes in their spectral shapes. We specifically investigate the X-ray spectral evolution of Mrk 421 over a time span of about nine years.
Aims.We aim at statistically describing and physically understanding the large spectral changes in X rays observed in Mrk 421 over this time span.
Methods.We perform a homogeneous spectral analysis of a wide data set including archived observations with ASCA, BeppoSAX, RXTE, as well as published and unpublished XMM-Newton data. The presence of uncertainties is taken into account in our correlation analysis. The significance of the correlations found and possible spurious effects are studied with Monte Carlo simulations.
Results.We find that the Mrk 421 spectral energy distribution (SED) has a lower peak at energies that vary in the range, 0.1–10 keV while its X-ray spectrum is definitely curved. Parameterizing the X-ray spectra with a log-parabolic model, we find a positive correlation between the position and the height of the SED peak. In addition, we find a negative trend of the spectral curvature parameter vs. the SED peak energy.
Conclusions.We show that these relations between the spectral parameters are consistent with statistical or stochastic acceleration of the emitting particles, and provide insight into the physical processes occurring in BL Lac nuclei.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: BL Lacertae objects: individual: Mrk 421 / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal / X-rays: galaxies
© ESO, 2007