Gamma rays from jets interacting with BLR clouds in blazars
Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomía (CCT-La Plata, CONICET; CICPBA), C.C.5, 1894 Villa Elisa, Argentina
2 Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
3 Departament de Física Quàntica i Astrofísica, Institut de Ciències del Cosmos (ICCUB), Universitat de Barcelona, IEEC-UB, Martí i Franquès 1, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Accepted: 10 February 2019
Context. The innermost parts of powerful jets in active galactic nuclei are surrounded by dense, high-velocity clouds from the broad-line region, which may penetrate into the jet and lead to the formation of a strong shock. Such jet-cloud interactions are expected to have measurable effects on the γ-ray emission from blazars.
Aims. We characterise the dynamics of a typical cloud-jet interaction scenario, and the evolution of its radiative output in the 0.1–30 GeV energy range, to assess to what extent these interactions can contribute to the γ-ray emission in blazars.
Methods. We use semi-analytical descriptions of the jet-cloud dynamics, taking into account the expansion of the cloud inside the jet and its acceleration. Assuming that electrons are accelerated in the interaction and making use of the hydrodynamical information, we then compute the high-energy radiation from the cloud, including the absorption of γ-rays in the ambient photon field through pair creation.
Results. Jet-cloud interactions can lead to significant γ-ray fluxes in blazars with a broad-line region (BLR), in particular when the cloud expansion and acceleration inside the jet are taken into account. This is caused by 1) the increased shocked area in the jet, which leads to an increase in the energy budget for the non-thermal emission; 2) a more efficient inverse Compton cooling with the boosted photon field of the BLR; and 3) an increased observer luminosity due to Doppler boosting effects.
Conclusions. For typical broad-line region parameters, either (i) jet-cloud interactions contribute significantly to the persistent γ-ray emission from blazars or (ii) the BLR is far from spherical or the fraction of energy deposited in non-thermal electrons is small.
Key words: gamma rays: galaxies / galaxies: active / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
© ESO 2019