Volume 634, February 2020
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Published online||11 February 2020|
Long term γ-ray variability of blazars
Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Koramangala, Bangalore 560034, India
2 Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO (FINCA), University of Turku, Vesilinnantie 5, 20014 Quantum, Finland
Accepted: 25 December 2019
We used the data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to characterise the γ-ray flux variability of blazars on month-like time scales. Our sample consists of 1120 blazars of which 481 are flat spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs) and 639 are BL Lac objects (BL Lacs). We generated monthly binned light curves of our sample for a period of approximately nine years from 2008 August to 2017 December and quantified variability by using excess variance (Fvar). On month-like time scales, 371/481 FSRQs are variable (80%), while only about 50% (304/639) of BL Lacs are variable. This suggests that FSRQs are more variable than BL Lac objects. We find a mean Fvar of 0.55 ± 0.33 and 0.47 ± 0.29 for FSRQs and BL Lacs respectively. Large Fvar in FSRQs is also confirmed from the analysis of the ensemble structure function. By Dividing our sample of blazars based on the position of the synchrotron peak in their broad-band spectral energy distribution, we find that the low synchrotron peaked (LSP) sources have the largest mean Fvar value of 0.54 ± 0.32 while the intermediate synchrotron peaked (ISP) and high synchrotron peaked sources have mean Fvar values of 0.45 ± 0.25 and 0.47 ± 0.33 respectively. On month-like time scales, we find FSRQs to show a high duty cycle (DC) of variability of 66% relative to BL Lacs that show a DC of 36%. We find that both the Fvar and time scale of variability (τ) do not correlate with MBH. We note that Fvar is found to be weakly correlated with Doppler factor (δ) and τ is also weakly correlated with δ. Most of the sources in our sample have τ of the order of days, which might be related to processes in the jet. We find marginal difference in the distribution of τ between FSRQs and BL Lacs.
Key words: galaxies: active / BL Lacertae objects: general / quasars: supermassive black holes
© ESO 2020
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