UC Santa Cruz
Very-High-Energy Blazars: A Broad(band) Perspective
- Author(s): Furniss, Amy Kathryn
- Advisor(s): Williams, David A
- et al.
Very high energy (VHE; E>100 GeV) blazars are a type of active galaxy detected above 100 GeV with a jet pointed toward the observer. This work investigates VHE blazars through broadband observations, starting with a description of the VHE-discovery and time-independent modeling of the non-thermal emission from RX J0648.7+1516. Additionally, synchrotron self-Compton models are applied to six non-VHE blazars, with the VHE flux of each blazar being constrained by non-detection during observation by VERITAS. The general lack of physical measurements of model parameters is highlighted and a scheme of supplementary observations involving millimeter carbon monoxide (CO) luminosity and soft X-ray absorption measurements is explored for three VHE blazars. The limited sample supports a possible connection between the existence of CO in the vicinity of the blazar and additional soft X-ray absorption beyond what can be attributed to the Milky Way. RGB J0710+590 and W Comae both lack a significant level of CO and do not require additional absorption for the description of the soft X-ray emission as observed by Swift XRT. 1ES 1959+650, on the other hand, shows a significant level of CO in the vicinity of the blazar and requires additional absorption to describe the soft X-ray emission. The positive detection of CO in the vicinity of 1ES 1959+650 is used as motivation to apply a mirrored emission scenario to broadband variability data. Limits on the redshifts of the two VHE blazars 3C 66A and PKS 1424+240 are derived from HST/COS observations of intervening Lyman absorption. These observations show 3C 66A to reside at a redshift below the tentative z=0.444 at 99.9% confidence and reveal PKS 1424+240 to be the most distant VHE-detected blazar thus far. The redshift information is paired with VERITAS and Fermi Large Area Telescope gamma-ray observations to probe the density of the extragalactic background light and correct the observed gamma-ray spectra to the intrinsically emitted spectra, allowing insight into the acceleration mechanisms at work within the blazar jets and the propagation of gamma-ray photons through intergalactic space.