X-Ray, UV, and Radio Timing Observations of the Radio Galaxy 3C 120

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Researchers

Research units

  • Boston University
  • St. Petersburg State University

Abstract

We report the results of monitoring of the radio galaxy 3C 120 with the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, Very Long Baseline Array, and Metsähovi Radio Observatory. The UV-optical continuum spectrum and R-band polarization can be explained by a superposition of an inverted-spectrum source with a synchrotron component containing a disordered magnetic field. The UV-optical and X-ray light curves include dips and flares, while several superluminal knots appear in the parsec-scale jet. The recovery time of the second dip was longer at UV-optical wavelengths, in conflict with a model in which the inner accretion disk (AD) is disrupted during a dip and then refilled from outer to inner radii. We favor an alternative scenario in which occasional polar alignments of the magnetic field in the disk and corona cause the flux dips and formation of shocks in the jet. Similar to observations of Seyfert galaxies, intra-band time lags of flux variations are longer than predicted by the standard AD model. This suggests that scattering or some other reprocessing occurs. The 37 GHz light curve is well-correlated with the optical-UV variations, with a ∼20 day delay. A radio flare in the jet occurred in a superluminal knot 0.14 milliarcseconds downstream of the 43 GHz "core," which places the site of the preceding X-ray/UV/optical flare within the core 0.5-1.3 pc from the black hole. The inverted UV-optical flare spectrum can be explained by a nearly monoenergetic electron distribution with energy similar to the minimum energy inferred in the TeV γ-ray emitting regions of some BL Lacertae objects.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number128
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume867
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • accretion, accretion disks, galaxies: active, galaxies: individual (3C 120), radio continuum: galaxies, ultraviolet: galaxies, X-rays: galaxies

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