VERITAS Discovery of VHE Emission from the Radio Galaxy 3C 264: A Multiwavelength Study

A. Archer, W. Benbow, R. Bird, A. Brill, M. Buchovecky, J. H. Buckley, M. T. Carini, J. L. Christiansen, A. J. Chromey, M. K. Daniel, M. Errando, A. Falcone, Q. Feng, P. Fortin, L. Fortson, A. Furniss, A. Gent, M. Georganopoulos, G. H. Gillanders, C. GiuriO. Gueta, D. Hanna, T. Hassan, O. Hervet, J. Holder, G. Hughes, T. B. Humensky, P. Kaaret, M. Kertzman, D. Kieda, F. Krennrich, M. J. Lang, T. T.Y. Lin, M. L. Lister, M. Lundy, G. Maier, E. Meyer, P. Moriarty, R. Mukherjee, D. Nieto, M. Nievas-Rosillo, S. O'brien, R. A. Ong, K. Pfrang, M. Pohl, R. R. Prado, E. Pueschel, J. Quinn, K. Ragan, K. Ramirez, P. T. Reynolds, D. Ribeiro, G. T. Richards, E. Roache, C. Rulten, J. L. Ryan, A. Sadun, M. Santander, S. S. Scott, G. H. Sembroski, K. Shahinyan, R. Shang, B. Stevenson, V. V. Vassiliev, S. P. Wakely, A. Weinstein, P. Wilcox, A. Wilhelm, D. A. Williams, T. J. Williamson

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The radio source 3C 264, hosted by the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 3862, was observed with the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) between 2017 February and 2019 May. These deep observations resulted in the discovery of very high energy (VHE; E > 100 GeV) γ-ray emission from this active galaxy. An analysis of ∼57 hr of quality-selected live time yields a detection at the position of the source, corresponding to a statistical significance of 7.8 standard deviations above background. The observed VHE flux is variable on monthly timescales, with an elevated flux seen in 2018 observations. The VHE emission during this elevated state is well characterized by a power-law spectrum with a photon index Γ = 2.20 0.27 and flux F(>315 GeV) = (7.6 ± 1.2stat ± 2.3syst) × 10-13 cm-2 s-1, or approximately 0.7% of the Crab Nebula flux above the same threshold. 3C 264 (z = 0.0217) is the most distant radio galaxy detected at VHE, and the elevated state is thought to be similar to that of the famously outbursting jet in M87. Consequently, extensive contemporaneous multiwavelength data were acquired in 2018 at the time of the VHE high state. An analysis of these data, including Very Long Baseline Array, Very Large Array, Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra, and Swift observations in addition to the VERITAS data, is presented, along with a discussion of the resulting spectral energy distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number41
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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