AGILE detection of a rapid γ-ray flare from the blazar PKS 1510-089 during the GASP-WEBT monitoring

F. D'Ammando, G. Pucella, C. M. Raiteri, M. Villata, V. Vittorini, S. Vercellone, I. Donnarumma, F. Longo, M. Tavani, A. Argan, G. Barbiellini, F. Boffelli, A. Bulgarelli, P. Caraveo, P. W. Cattaneo, A. W. Chen, V. Cocco, E. Costa, E. Del Monte, G. De ParisG. Di Cocco, Y. Evangelista, M. Feroci, A. Ferrari, M. Fiorini, T. Froysland, F. Fuschino, M. Galli, F. Gianotti, A. Giuliani, C. Labanti, I. Lapshov, F. Lazzarotto, P. Lipari, M. Marisaldi, S. Mereghetti, A. Morselli, L. Pacciani, A. Pellizzoni, F. Perotti, G. Piano, P. Picozza, M. Pilia, M. Prest, M. Rapisarda, A. Rappoldi, S. Sabatini, P. Soffitta, M. Trifoglio, A. Trois, E. Vallazza, A. Zambra, D. Zanello, I. Agudo, M. F. Aller, H. D. Aller, A. A. Arkharov, U. Bach, E. Benitez, A. Berdyugin, D. A. Blinov, C. S. Buemi, W. P. Chen, A. Di Paola, G. Di Rico, D. Dultzin, L. Fuhrmann, J. L. Gómez, M. A. Gurwell, S. G. Jorstad, J. Heidt, D. Hiriart, H. Y. Hsiao, G. Kimeridze, T. S. Konstantinova, E. N. Kopatskaya, E. Koptelova, O. Kurtanidze, V. M. Larionov, P. Leto, E. Lindfors, J. M. Lopez, A. P. Marscher, I. M. McHardy, D. A. Melnichuk, M. Mommert, R. Mujica, K. Nilsson, M. Pasanen, M. Roca-Sogorb, M. Sorcia, L. O. Takalo, B. Taylor, C. Trigilio, I. S. Troitsky, G. Umana, L. A. Antonelli, S. Colafrancesco, S. Cutini, D. Gasparrini, C. Pittori, B. Preger, P. Santolamazza, F. Verrecchia, P. Giommi, L. Salotti

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Aims. We report the detection by the AGILE satellite of a rapid γ-ray flare from the source 1AGL J1511-0908, associated with the powerful γ-ray quasar PKS 1510-089, during a pointing centered on the Galactic center region from 1 March to 30 March 2008. This source has been continuosly monitored in the radio-to-optical bands by the GLAST-AGILE Support Program (GASP) of the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT). Moreover, the γ-ray flaring episode triggered three ToO observations by the swift satellite in three consecutive days, starting from 20 March 2008. The quasi-simultaneous radio-to-optical, UV, X-ray and γ-ray coverage allows us to make a detailed study of the multifrequency time evolution, the spectral energy distribution of this source, and its theoretical interpretation based on the synchrotron and inverse Compton (IC) emission mechanisms.Methods. During the radio-to-optical monitoring provided by the GASP-WEBT, AGILE observed the source with its two co-aligned imagers, the gamma-ray imaging detector (GRID) and the hard X-ray imager (SuperAGILE), which are sensitive in the 30 MeV-30 GeV and 18-60 keV energy bands, respectively.Results. In the period 1-16 March 2008, AGILE detected γ-ray emission from PKS 1510-089 at a significance level of 6.2-σ with an average flux over the entire period of (84±17)×10 -8 photons cm-2 s-1 for photon energies above 100 MeV. After a predefined satellite re-pointing, between 17 and 21 March 2008, AGILE detected the source at a significance level of 7.3-σ, with an average flux (E< 100 MeV) of (134±29)×10-8 photons cm-2s-1 and a peak level of (281±68)×10 -8 photons cm-2s-1 with daily integration. During the observing period January-April 2008, the source also showed an intense and variable optical activity, with several flaring episodes and a significant increase in the flux was observed at millimetric frequencies. Moreover, in the X-ray band, the swift/XRT observations seem to show a harder-when-brighter behavior of the source spectrum.Conclusions. The flat spectrum radio quasar PKS 1510-089 showed strong activity between January and April 2008, with episodes of rapid variability from radio to γ-ray energy bands, in particular with a rapid γ-ray flaring episode. The spectral energy distribution of mid-March 2008 is modeled with a homogeneous one-zone synchrotron self Compton (SSC) emission plus contributions from inverse Compton scattering of external photons from both the accretion disk and the broad line region. Indeed, some features in the optical-UV spectrum seem to indicate Seyfert-like components such as the little and the big blue bumps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Dec 2009


  • Gamma-rays: observations
  • Quasars: individual: PKS 1510-089
  • Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal


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