2,733 research outputs found

    The cyclo-synchrotron process and particle heating through the absorption of photons

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    We propose a new approximation for the cyclo-synchrotron emissivity of a single electron. In the second part of this work, we discuss a simple application for our approximation, and investigate the heating of electrons through the self-absorption process. Finally, we investigate the self-absorbed part of the spectrum produced by a power-law population of electrons. In comparison to earlier approximations, our formula provides a few significant advantages. Integration of the emissivity over the whole frequency range, starting from the proper minimal emitting frequency, gives the correct cooling rate for any energy particle. Further, the spectrum of the emission is well approximated over the whole frequency range, even for relatively low particle energies (beta << 0.1), where most of the power is emitted in the first harmonic. In order to test our continuous approximation, we compare it with a recently derived approximation of the first ten harmonics. Finally, our formula connects relatively smooth to the synchrotron emission at beta=0.9. We show that the self-absorption is a very efficient heating mechanism for low energy particles, independent of the shape of the particle distribution responsible for the self-absorbed synchrotron emission. We find that the energy gains for low energy particles are always higher than energy losses by cyclo-synchrotron emission. We show also that the spectral index of the self-absorbed part of the spectrum at very low frequencies differs significantly from the well known standard relation I(nu) ~ nu^(5/2).Comment: 9 pages, 4 figures, accepted for publication in A&

    What is the radiative process of the prompt phase of Gamma Ray Bursts?

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    Despite the dramatic improvement of our knowledge of the phenomenology of Gamma Ray Bursts, we still do not know several fundamental aspects of their physics. One of the puzzles concerns the nature of the radiative process originating the prompt phase radiation. Although the synchrotron process qualifies itself as a natural candidate, it faces severe problems, and many efforts have been done looking for alternatives. These, however, suffer from other problems, and there is no general consensus yet on a specific radiation mechanism.Comment: 6 pages, 3 figures, invited talk at the conference: X-Ray Astronomy 2009, Present Status, multiwavelength approach and future perspectives, September 2009, Bologn

    Swift for blazars

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    I will review recent advances in the field of blazars, highlighting the contribution of Swift. Together with other operating satellites (most notably Fermi, but also AGILE, WISE, Planck) and ground based facilities such as Cherenkov telescopes, Swift was (and is) crucial for improving our understanding of blazars. The main advances in the blazar field made possible by Swift includes the opening of the time domain investigation, since there are several sources with hundreds of simultaneous optical, UV and X-ray data taken at different times; the possibility to measure the black hole mass in very powerful blazars, that show clear signs of accretion disk emission; the possibility to classify blazar candidates, through X-ray observations; the finding of the most powerful and distant blazars, emitting strongly in the hard X-ray band accessible to Swift/BAT. All these improvements had and have a great impact on our understanding on how relativistic jets are formed and emit, on their power, and on how the heavy black holes in these systems first formed and grew.Comment: 12 pages, 10 figures, Journal of High Energy Astrophysics for the dedicated issue: "Swift: Ten Years of Discovery", in pres

    Jets, black holes and disks in blazars

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    The Fermi and Swift satellites, together with ground based Cherenkov telescopes, has greatly improved our knowledge of blazars, namely Flat Spectrum Radio Quasars and BL Lac objects, since all but the most powerful emit most of their electro-magnetic output at gamma-ray energies, while the very powerful blazars emit mostly in the hard X-ray region of the spectrum. Often they show coordinated variability at different frequencies, suggesting that in these cases the same population of electrons is at work, in a single zone of the jet. The location of this region along the jet is a matter of debate. The jet power correlates with the mass accretion rate, with jets existing at all values of disk luminosities, measured in Eddington units, sampled so far. The most powerful blazars show clear evidence of the emission from their disks, and this has revived methods of finding the black hole mass and accretion rate by modelling a disk spectrum to the data. Being so luminous, blazars can be detected also at very high redshift, and therefore are a useful tool to explore the far universe. One interesting line of research concerns how heavy are their black holes at high redshifts. If we associate the presence of a relativistic jet with a fastly spinning black hole, then we naively expect that the accretion efficiency is larger than for non-spinning holes. As a consequence, the black hole mass in jetted systems should grow at a slower rate. In turn, this would imply that, at high redshifts, the heaviest black holes should be in radio-quiet quasars. We instead have evidences of the opposite, challenging our simple ideas of how a black hole grows.Comment: 12 pages, 11 figures. Invited review at the meeting "The Innermost Regions of Relativistic Jets and Their Magnetic Fields", Granada, Spai

    Blazars and Gamma Ray Bursts

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    Blazars and Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) are the fastest objects known so far. The radiation we see from these sources originates in a jet of similar aperture angle, and we think it is the result of the conversion of some of the jet kinetic energy into random motion of the emitting particles. Mechanisms for producing, collimating and accelerating the jets in these sources are uncertain, and it is fruitful to compare the characteristics of both class of sources in search of enlightening similarities. I discuss some general characteristics of blazars and GRBs such as the power of their jets compared with what they can extract through accretion, and the dissipation mechanism operating in the jets of both classes of sources. In both classes, there is a well defined trend between the bolometric power and the frequency at which this power is mainly emitted, but blazars are "redder when brighter", while GRBs are "bluer when brighter". Finally, I discuss some recent exciting prospects to use blazars to put constraints on the cosmic IR-Optical-UV backgrounds, and to use GRBs as standard candles to measure the Universe.Comment: 15 pages, 6 figures; invited talk at the VI Microquasar Workshop: " Microquasars and beyond" Como, September 200
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