Discovery of variability in the very high energy γ-ray emission of 1ES 1218+304 with veritas

V. A. Acciari, E. Aliu, M. Beilicke, W. Benbow, D. Boltuch, M. Böttcher, S. M. Bradbury, V. Bugaev, K. Byrum, A. Cesarini, L. Ciupik, P. Cogan, W. Cui, R. Dickherber, C. Duke, A. Falcone, J. P. Finley, G. Finnegan, L. Fortson, A. FurnissN. Galante, D. Gall, K. Gibbs, R. Guenette, G. H. Gillanders, S. Godambe, J. Grube, D. Hanna, C. M. Hui, T. B. Humensky, A. Imran, P. Kaaret, N. Karlsson, M. Kertzman, D. Kieda, H. Krawczynski, F. Krennrich, M. J. Lang, S. Lebohec, G. Maier, S. McArthur, A. McCann, P. Moriarty, T. Nagai, R. A. Ong, A. N. Otte, D. Pandel, J. S. Perkins, A. Pichel, M. Pohl

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We present results from an intensive VERITAS monitoring campaign of the high-frequency peaked BL Lac object 1ES 1218+304 in 2008/2009. Although 1ES 1218+304 was detected previously by MAGIC and VERITAS at a persistent level of ∼ 6% of the Crab Nebula flux, the new VERITAS data reveal a prominent flare reaching ∼ 20% of the Crab. While very high energy (VHE) flares are quite common in many nearby blazars, the case of 1ES 1218+304 (redshift z = 0.182) is particularly interesting since it belongs to a group of blazars that exhibit unusually hard VHE spectra considering their redshifts. When correcting the measured spectra for absorption by the extragalactic background light, 1ES 1218+304 and a number of other blazars are found to have differential photon indices Γ≤ 1.5. The difficulty in modeling these hard spectral energy distributions in blazar jets has led to a range of theoretical γ-ray emission scenarios, one of which is strongly constrained by these new VERITAS observations. We consider the implications of the observed light curve of 1ES 1218+304, which shows day scale flux variations, for shock acceleration scenarios in relativistic jets, and in particular for the viability of kiloparsec-scale jet emission scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L163-L167
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Galaxies: active
  • Gamma rays:galaxies


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