Blazar sequence – an artefact of Doppler boosting*
Metsähovi Radio Observatory, TKK, Helsinki University of Technology, Metsähovintie 114, 02540 Kylmälä, Finland e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Tuorla Observatory, Väisäläntie 20, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
3 Dept. of Physical Sciences, University of Turku, 20100 Turku, Finland
Accepted: 5 May 2008
Context. The blazar sequence is a scenario in which the bolometric luminosity of the blazar governs the appearance of its spectral energy distribution. The most prominent result is the significant negative correlation between the synchrotron peak frequencies and the synchrotron peak luminosities of the blazar population.
Aims. Observational studies of the blazar sequence have, in general, neglected the effect of Doppler boosting. We study the dependence of both the synchrotron peak frequency and luminosity with Doppler-corrected quantities.
Methods. We determine the spectral energy distributions of 135 radio-bright AGN and find the best-fit parabolic function for the distribution to quantify their synchrotron emission. The corresponding measurements of synchrotron peak luminosities and frequencies are Doppler-corrected with a new set of Doppler factors calculated from variability data. The relevant correlations for the blazar sequence are determined for these intrinsic quantities.
Results. The Doppler factor depends strongly on the synchrotron peak frequency, the lower energy sources being more boosted. Applying the Doppler correction to the peak frequencies and luminosities annuls the negative correlation between the two quantities, which becomes positive. For BL Lacertae objects, the positive correlation is particularly strong.
Conclusions. The blazar sequence, when defined as the anticorrelation between the peak frequency and luminosity of the synchrotron component of the spectral energy distribution, disappears when the intrinsic, Doppler-corrected values are used. It is an observational phenomenon created by variable Doppler boosting across the synchrotron peak frequency range.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: BL Lacertae objects: general / galaxies: quasars: general / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
© ESO, 2008