Short timescale photometric and polarimetric behavior of two BL Lacertae type objects⋆
1 INAF/Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, via Bianchi 46, 23807 Merate (LC), Italy
2 Università degli Studi dell’Insubria, via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como, Italy
3 INFN Milano-Bicocca – Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 3, 20126 Milano, Italy
4 Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas, Rua Dr. Xavier Sigaud 150, Urca, 22290-180 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 Astrophysical Institute, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA
6 Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
7 Centre for Space Research, North-West University, 2531 Potchefstroom, South Africa
8 INAF/Fund. Galileo Galilei, Rambla José Ana Fernández Perez 7, 38712 Breña Baja (La Palma), Canary Islands, Spain
9 INAF/Istituto di Radioastronomia, 40129 Bologna, Italy
10 DIFA, Università di Bologna, Viale Berti Pichat 6/2, 40127 Bologna, Italy
11 Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università di Catania, Sezione Astrofisica, via S. Sofia 78, 9512 Catania, Italy
12 University of Turku and Department of Physics, University of Oulu, 20014 Turunyliopisto, Finland
13 INAF/Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica Milano, via E. Bassini 15, 20133 Milano, Italy
14 Università di Padova and INFN, 35131 Padova, Italy
15 ISDC – University of Geneva, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
16 INAF/Osservatorio Astrofisico di Torino, Via Osservatorio 10, 10025 Pino Torinese, Italy
Received: 16 January 2015
Accepted: 9 April 2015
Context. Blazars are astrophysical sources whose emission is dominated by non-thermal processes, i.e. synchrotron and inverse Compton emission. Although the general picture is rather robust and consistent with observations, many aspects are still unexplored.
Aims. Polarimetric monitoring can offer a wealth of information about the physical processes in blazars. Models with largely different physical ingredients can provide almost indistinguishable predictions for the total flux, but usually are characterized by different polarization properties. We explore the possibility to derive structural information about the emitting regions of blazars by means of a joint analysis of rapid variability of the total and polarized flux at optical wavelengths.
Methods. Short timescale (from tens of seconds to a couple of minutes) optical linear polarimetry and photometry for two blazars, BL Lacertae and PKS 1424+240, was carried out with the PAOLO polarimeter at the 3.6 m Telescopio Nazionale Galileo. Several hours of almost continuous observations were obtained for both sources.
Results. Our intense monitoring allowed us to draw different scenarios for BL Lacertae and PKS 1424+240, with the former characterized by intense variability and the latter practically constant in total flux. Essentially the same behavior is observed for the polarized flux and the position angle. The variability time-scales turned out to be as short as a few minutes, although involving only a few percent variation of the flux. The polarization variability time-scale is generally consistent with the total flux variability. Total and polarized flux appear to be essentially uncorrelated. However, even during our relatively short monitoring, different regimes can be singled out.
Conclusions. No simple scenario is able to satisfactorily model the very rich phenomenology exhibited in our data. Detailed numerical simulations show that the emitting region should be characterized by some symmetry, and the inclusion of turbulence for the magnetic field may constitute the missing ingredient for a more complete interpretation of the data.
Key words: BL Lacertae objects: individual: PKS 1424+240
© ESO, 2015