The 2009 december gamma-ray flare of 3C 454.3: The multifrequency campaign

L. Pacciani, V. Vittorini, M. Tavani, M. T. Fiocchi, S. Vercellone, F. D'Ammando, T. Sakamoto, E. Pian, C. M. Raiteri, M. Villata, M. Sasada, R. Itoh, M. Yamanaka, M. Uemura, E. Striani, D. Fugazza, A. Tiengo, H. A. Krimm, M. C. Stroh, A. D. FalconeP. A. Curran, A. C. Sadun, A. Lahteenmaki, M. Tornikoski, H. D. Aller, M. F. Aller, C. S. Lin, V. M. Larionov, P. Leto, L. O. Takalo, A. Berdyugin, M. A. Gurwell, A. Bulgarelli, A. W. Chen, I. Donnarumma, A. Giuliani, F. Longo, G. Pucella, A. Argan, G. Barbiellini, P. Caraveo, P. W. Cattaneo, E. Costa, G. De Paris, E. Del Monte, G. Di Cocco, Y. Evangelista, A. Ferrari, M. Feroci, M. Fiorini, F. Fuschino, M. Galli, F. Gianotti, C. Labanti, I. Lapshov, F. Lazzarotto, P. Lipari, M. Marisaldi, S. Mereghetti, E. Morelli, E. Moretti, A. Morselli, A. Pellizzoni, F. Perotti, G. Piano, P. Picozza, M. Pilia, M. Prest, M. Rapisarda, A. Rappoldi, A. Rubini, S. Sabatini, P. Soffitta, M. Trifoglio, A. Trois, E. Vallazza, D. Zanello, S. Colafrancesco, C. Pittori, F. Verrecchia, P. Santolamazza, F. Lucarelli, P. Giommi, L. Salotti

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During the month of 2009 December, the blazar 3C 454.3 became the brightest gamma-ray source in the sky, reaching a peak flux F 2000 × 10 -8 photons cm-2 s-1 for E > 100 MeV. Starting in 2009 November intensive multifrequency campaigns monitored the 3C 454 gamma-ray outburst. Here, we report on the results of a two-month campaign involving AGILE, INTEGRAL, Swift/XRT, Swift/BAT, and Rossi XTE for the high-energy observations and Swift/UVOT, KANATA, Goddard Robotic Telescope, and REM for the near-IR/optical/UV data. GASP/WEBT provided radio and additional optical data. We detected a long-term active emission phase lasting 1 month at all wavelengths: in the gamma-ray band, peak emission was reached on 2009 December 2-3. Remarkably, this gamma-ray super-flare was not accompanied by correspondingly intense emission in the optical/UV band that reached a level substantially lower than the previous observations in 2007-2008. The lack of strong simultaneous optical brightening during the super-flare and the determination of the broadband spectral evolution severely constrain the theoretical modeling. We find that the pre- and post-flare broadband behavior can be explained by a one-zone model involving synchrotron self-Compton plus external Compton emission from an accretion disk and a broad-line region. However, the spectra of the 2009 December 2-3 super-flare and of the secondary peak emission on 2009 December 9 cannot be satisfactorily modeled by a simple one-zone model. An additional particle component is most likely active during these states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L170-L175
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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