Identification of activity peaks in time-tagged data with a scan-statistics driven clustering method and its application to gamma-ray data samples★
Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali – Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (IAPS-INAF),
Via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100,
Accepted: 12 March 2018
Context. The investigation of activity periods in time-tagged data samples is a topic of great interest. Among astrophysical samples, gamma-ray sources are widely studied, due to the huge quasi-continuum data set available today from Fermi-LAT (Fermi Large Area Telescope) and the AGILE-GRID (Astro Rivelatore Gamma a Immagini LEggero-Gamma Ray Imaging Detector)
Aims. To reveal flaring episodes of a given gamma-ray source, researchers make use of binned light curves. This method suffers from several drawbacks: the results depend on time-binning and the identification of activity periods is difficult for bins with a low signal-to-noise ratio. A different approach is investigated in this paper.
Methods. We developed a general temporal-unbinned method to identify flaring periods in time-tagged data and discriminate statistically significant flares. We propose an event clustering method in one dimension to identify flaring episodes, and scan statistics to evaluate the flare significance within the whole data sample. This is a photometric algorithm. The comparison of the photometric results (e.g. photometric flux, gamma-ray spatial distribution) for the identified peaks with the standard likelihood analysis for the same period is mandatory to establish if source confusion is spoiling results.
Results. The procedure can be applied to reveal flares in any time-tagged data sample. The result of the proposed method is similar to a photometric light curve, but peaks are resolved, they are statistically significant within the whole period of investigation, and peak detection capability does not suffer time-binning related issues. The study of the gamma ray activity of 3C 454.3 and of the fast variability of the Crab Nebula are shown as examples. The method can be applied for gamma-ray sources of known celestial position, for example, sources taken from a catalogue. Furthermore the method can be used when it is necessary to assess the statistical significance within the whole period of investigation of a flare from an unknown gamma-ray source. Extensive results based on this analysis method for some astrophysical problems are the subject of a forthcoming paper.
Key words: methods: statistical / methods: data analysis / techniques: photometric / gamma rays: general
C code implementing the whole procedure and supplementary tables are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (126.96.36.199) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/615/A56
© ESO 2018