Journal Article

Testing the blazar spectral sequence: X-ray-selected blazars

L. Maraschi, L. Foschini, G. Ghisellini, F. Tavecchio and R. M. Sambruna

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 391, issue 4, pages 1981-1993
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Testing the blazar spectral sequence: X-ray-selected blazars

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We present simultaneous optical and X-ray data from Swift for a sample of radio-loud flat-spectrum quasars selected from the Einstein Medium Sensitivity Survey (EMSS). We present also a complete analysis of Swift and INTEGRAL data on four blazars recently discussed as possibly challenging the trends of the hypothesized ‘blazar spectral sequence’. The spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of all these objects are modelled in terms of a general theoretical scheme, applicable to all blazars, leading to an estimate of the jets’ physical parameters. Our results show that, in the case of the EMSS broad line blazars, X-ray selection does not lead to find sources with synchrotron peaks in the UV/X-ray range, as was the case for X-ray-selected BL Lacs. Instead, for a wide range of radio powers all the sources with broad emission lines show similar SEDs, with synchrotron components peaking below the optical/UV range. The SED models suggest that the associated inverse Compton (IC) emission should peak below the GeV range, but could be detectable in some cases by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Of the remaining four ‘anomalous’ blazars, two highly luminous sources with broad lines, claimed to possibly emit synchrotron X-rays, are shown to be better described with IC models for their X-ray emission. For one source with weak emission lines (a BL Lac object) a synchrotron peak in the soft X-ray range is confirmed, while for the fourth source, exhibiting narrow emission lines typical of narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxies, no evidence of X-ray emission from a relativistic jet is found. We re-examine the standing and interpretation of the original ‘blazar spectral sequence’ and suggest that the photon ambient, in which the particle acceleration and emission occur, is likely the main factor determining the shape of the blazar SED. A connection between SED shape and jet power/luminosity can however result through the link between the mass and accretion rate of the central black hole and the radiative efficiency of the resulting accretion flow, thus involving at least two parameters.

Keywords: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal; galaxies: active; galaxies: jets

Journal Article.  8881 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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