Rapid and multiband variability of the TeV bright active nucleus of the galaxy IC 310

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Context. The radio galaxy IC 310 has recently been identified as a gamma-ray emitter based on observations at GeV energies with Fermi-LAT and at very high energies (VHE, E > 100 GeV) with the MAGIC telescopes. Originally classified as a head-tail radio galaxy, the nature of this object is subject of controversy since its nucleus shows blazar-like behavior. Aims. To understand the nature of IC310 and the origin of the VHE emission, we studied the spectral and flux variability of IC 310 from the X-ray band to the VHE gamma-ray regime. Methods. The light curve of IC310 above 300GeV has been measured with the MAGIC telescopes from 2009 October to 2010 February. Contemporaneous Fermi-LAT data (2008-2011) in the 10-500 GeV energy range were also analyzed. In the X-ray regime, archival observations from 2003 to 2007 with XMM-Newton, Chandra, and Swift-XRT in the 0.5-10 keV band were studied. Results. The VHE light curve reveals several high-amplitude and short-duration flares. Day-to-day flux variability is clearly present (>5 sigma). The photon index between 120 GeV and 8 TeV remains at the value Gamma similar to 2.0 during both low and high flux states. The VHE spectral shape does not show significant variability, whereas the flux at 1 TeV changes by a factor of similar to 7. Fermi-LAT detected only eight gamma-ray events in the energy range 10 GeV-500 GeV in three years of observation. The measured photon index of Gamma = 1.3 +/- 0.5 in the Fermi-LAT range is very hard. The X-ray measurements show strong variability in both flux and photon index. The latter varied from 1.76 +/- 0.07 to 2.55 +/- 0.07. Conclusions. The rapid variability measured in gamma-rays and X-rays confirms the blazar-like behavior of IC310. The multi-TeV gamma-ray emission seems to originate from scales of less than 80 Schwarzschild radii (for a black hole mass of 2 x 10(8) M-circle dot) within the compact core of its FR I radio jet with orientation angle 10 degrees-38 degrees. The spectral energy distribution resembles that of an extreme blazar, albeit the luminosity is more than two orders of magnitude lower.
© ESO, 2014.