The blazar emission environment: Insight from soft X-ray absorption

A. Furniss, M. Fumagalli, A. Falcone, D. A. Williams

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9 Scopus citations


Collecting experimental insight into the relativistic particle populations and emission mechanisms at work within TeV-emitting blazar jets, which are spatially unresolvable in most bands and have strong beaming factors, is a daunting task. New observational information has the potential to lead to major strides in understanding the acceleration site parameters. Detection of molecular carbon monoxide (CO) in TeV emitting blazars, however, implies the existence of intrinsic gas, a connection often found in photo-dissociated region models and numerical simulations. The existence of intrinsic gas within a blazar could provide a target photon field for Compton up-scattering of photons to TeV energies by relativistic particles. We investigate the possible existence of intrinsic gas within the three TeV emitting blazars RGB J0710+591, W Comae, and 1ES 1959+650 which have measurements or upper limits on molecular CO line luminosity using an independent technique that is based on the spectral analysis of soft X-rays. Evidence for X-ray absorption by additional gas beyond that measured within the Milky Way is searched for in Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) data between 0.3 and 10 keV. Without complementary information from another measurement, additional absorption could be misinterpreted as an intrinsically curved X-ray spectrum since both models can frequently fit the soft X-ray data. After breaking this degeneracy, we do not find evidence for intrinsically curved spectra for any of the three blazars. Moreover, no evidence for intrinsic gas is evident for RGB J0710+591 and W Comae, while the 1ES 1959+650 XRT data support the existence of intrinsic gas with a column density of ∼1 × 1021 cm-2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 20 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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