The 2010 very high energy gamma-ray flare and 10 years of multi-wavelength observations of M 87

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The giant radio galaxy M 87 with its proximity (16 Mpc), famous jet, and very massive black hole ((3-6) x 10(9) M-circle dot) provides a unique opportunity to investigate the origin of very high energy (VHE; E > 100 GeV) gamma-ray emission generated in relativistic outflows and the surroundings of supermassive black holes. M 87 has been established as a VHE gamma-ray emitter since 2006. The VHE gamma-ray emission displays strong variability on timescales as short as a day. In this paper, results from a joint VHE monitoring campaign on M 87 by the MAGIC and VERITAS instruments in 2010 are reported. During the campaign, a flare at VHE was detected triggering further observations at VHE (H.E.S.S.), X-rays (Chandra), and radio (43 GHz Very Long Baseline Array, VLBA). The excellent sampling of the VHE gamma-ray light curve enables one to derive a precise temporal characterization of the flare: the single, isolated flare is well described by a two-sided exponential function with significantly different flux rise and decay times of tau(rise)(d) = (1.69 +/- 0.30) days and tau(decay)(d) = (0.611 +/- 0.080) days, respectively. While the overall variability pattern of the 2010 flare appears somewhat different from that of previous VHE flares in 2005 and 2008, they share very similar timescales (similar to day), peak fluxes (Phi(>0.35 TeV) similar or equal to (1-3) x 10(-11) photons cm(-2) s(-1)), and VHE spectra. VLBA radio observations of 43 GHz of the inner jet regions indicate no enhanced flux in 2010 in contrast to observations in 2008, where an increase of the radio flux of the innermost core regions coincided with a VHE flare. On the other hand, Chandra X-ray observations taken similar to 3 days after the peak of the VHE gamma-ray emission reveal an enhanced flux from the core (flux increased by factor similar to 2; variability timescale <2 days). The long-term (2001-2010) multi-wavelength (MWL) light curve of M 87, spanning from radio to VHE and including data from Hubble Space Telescope, Liverpool Telescope, Very Large Array, and European VLBI Network, is used to further investigate the origin of the VHE gamma-ray emission. No unique, common MWL signature of the three VHE flares has been identified. In the outer kiloparsec jet region, in particular in HST-1, no enhanced MWL activity was detected in 2008 and 2010, disfavoring it as the origin of the VHE flares during these years. Shortly after two of the three flares (2008 and 2010), the X-ray core was observed to be at a higher flux level than its characteristic range (determined from more than 60 monitoring observations: 2002-2009). In 2005, the strong flux dominance of HST-1 could have suppressed the detection of such a feature. Published models for VHE gamma-ray emission from M 87 are reviewed in the light of the new data.
© The American Astronomical Society. The H.E.S.S. Collaboration acknowledges support of the Namibian authorities and of the University of Namibia in facilitating the construction and operation of H.E.S.S., as is the support by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), the Max Planck Society, the French Ministry for Research, the CNRS-IN2P3 and the Astroparticle Interdisciplinary Programme of the CNRS, the U.K. Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the IPNP of the Charles University, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the South African Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation, and by the University of Namibia. We appreciate the excellent work of the technical support staff in Berlin, Durham, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Palaiseau, Paris, Saclay, and in Namibia in the construction and operation of the equipment.The MAGIC Collaboration thank the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias for the excellent working conditions at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma. The support of the German BMBF and MPG, the Italian INFN, the Swiss National Fund SNF, and the Spanish MICINN is gratefully acknowledged. This work was also supported by the Marie Curie program, by the CPAN CSD2007-00042 and MultiDark CSD2009-00064 projects of the Spanish Consolider-Ingenio 2010 programme, by grant DO02-353 of the Bulgarian NSF, by grant 127740 of the Academy of Finland, by the YIP of the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft, by the DFG Cluster of Excellence "Origin and Structure of the Universe," by the DFG Collaborative Research Centers SFB823/C4 and SFB876/C3, and by the Polish MNiSzW grant 745/N-HESS-MAGIC/2010/0.The VERITAS Collaboration acknowledges support from the US Department of Energy Office of Science, the US National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution, from NSERC in Canada, from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI 10/RFP/AST2748), and from STFC in the UK. We acknowledge the excellent work of the technical support staff at the FLWO and at the collaborating institutions in the construction and operation of the instrument.The Fermi LAT Collaboration acknowledges generous ongoing support from a number of agencies and institutes that have supported both the development and the operation of the LAT as well as scientific data analysis. These include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Energy in the United States, the Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut National de Physique Nucleaire et de Physique des Particules in France, the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Japan, and the K. A. Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish National Space Board in Sweden. Additional support for science analysis during the operations phase is gratefully acknowledged from the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy and the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales in France.Analysis of the Chandra data was supported by NASA grant GO0-11120X.The Very Long Baseline Array is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a facility of the NSF, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.The European VLBI Network is a joint facility of European, Chinese, South African, and other radio astronomy institutes funded by their national research councils. This effort is supported by the European Community Framework Programme 7, Advanced Radio Astronomy in Europe, grant agreement no. 227290.
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