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58 Scopus citations


We present coordinated multiwavelength observations of the bright, nearby BL Lacertae object Mrk 421 taken in 2013 January-March, involving GASP-WEBT, Swift, NuSTAR, Fermi-LAT, MAGIC, VERITAS, and other collaborations and instruments, providing data from radio to very high energy (VHE) γ-ray bands. NuSTAR yielded previously unattainable sensitivity in the 3-79 keV range, revealing that the spectrum softens when the source is dimmer until the X-ray spectral shape saturates into a steep Γ ≈ 3 power law, with no evidence for an exponential cutoff or additional hard components up to ∼80 keV. For the first time, we observed both the synchrotron and the inverse-Compton peaks of the spectral energy distribution (SED) simultaneously shifted to frequencies below the typical quiescent state by an order of magnitude. The fractional variability as a function of photon energy shows a double-bump structure that relates to the two bumps of the broadband SED. In each bump, the variability increases with energy, which, in the framework of the synchrotron self-Compton model, implies that the electrons with higher energies are more variable. The measured multi band variability, the significant X-ray-to-VHE correlation down to some of the lowest fluxes ever observed in both bands, the lack of correlation between optical/UV and X-ray flux, the low degree of polarization and its significant (random) variations, the short estimated electron cooling time, and the significantly longer variability timescale observed in the NuSTAR light curves point toward in situ electron acceleration and suggest that there are multiple compact regions contributing to the broadband emission of Mrk 421 during low-activity states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number156
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the anonymous referee for constructive suggestions that helped improve and clarify the paper. M.B. acknowledges support from the International Fulbright Science and Technology Award, and from NASA Headquarters under the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program, grant NNX14AQ07H. This research was supported in part by the Department of Energy Contract DE-AC02-76SF00515 to the SLAC National Accelerator Center. G.M. and A.F. acknowledge the support via NASA grant NNX13AO97G. D.B. acknowledges support from the French Space Agency (CNES) for financial support. This work was supported under NASA Contract No. NNG08FD60C and made use of data from the NuSTAR mission, a project led by the California Institute of Technology, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We thank the NuSTAR Operations, Software, and Calibration teams for support with the execution and analysis of these observations. This research has made use of the NuSTAR Data Analysis Software (NuSTARDAS) jointly developed by the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC, Italy) and the California Institute of Technology (USA). VERITAS is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution, by NSERC in Canada, and by STFC in the U.K. We acknowledge the excellent work of the technical support staff at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory and at the collaborating institutions in the construction and operation of the instrument. The VERITAS Collaboration is grateful to Trevor Weekes for his seminal contributions and leadership in the field of VHE gamma-ray astrophysics, which made this study possible. The MAGIC Collaboration would like to thank the Instituto de Astrof?sica de Canarias for the excellent working conditions at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma. The financial support of the German BMBF and MPG, the Italian INFN and INAF, the Swiss National Fund SNF, the ERDF under the Spanish MINECO, and the Japanese JSPS and MEXT is gratefully acknowledged. This work was also supported by the Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa SEV-2012-0234, CPAN CSD2007-00042, and MultiDark CSD2009-00064 projects of the Spanish Consolider-Ingenio 2010 programme, by grant 268740 of the Academy of Finland, by the Croatian Science Foundation (HrZZ) Project 09/176 and the University of Rijeka Project, by the DFG Collaborative Research Centers SFB823/C4 and SFB876/C3, and by the Polish MNiSzW grant 745/N-HESS-MAGIC/2010/0. The Fermi-LAT Collaboration acknowledges generous ongoing support from a number of agencies and institutes that have supported both the development and the operation of the LAT, as well as scientific data analysis. These include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Energy in the United States, the Commissariat ? l''Energie Atomique and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut National de Physique Nucl?aire et de Physique des Particules in France, the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Japan, and the K. A. Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, and the Swedish National Space Board in Sweden. Additional support for science analysis during the operations phase is gratefully acknowledged from the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy and the Centre National d''?tudes Spatiales in France. This research has made use of the XRT Data Analysis Software (XRTDAS) developed under the responsibility of the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC), Italy. The St. Petersburg University team acknowledges support from Russian RFBR grant 15-02-00949 and St. Petersburg University research grant 6.38.335.2015. The work of M.B. is supported by the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) of the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation of South Africa. Any opinion, finding, and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the authors and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard. The IAC team acknowledges the support from the group of support astronomers and telescope operators of the Observatorio del Teide. G.D. and O.V. gratefully acknowledge the observing grant support from the Institute of Astronomy and Rozhen National Astronomical Observatory, Bulgaria Academy of Sciences. This work is a part of the Projects No. 176011 (Dynamics and kinematics of celestial bodies and systems), No. 176004 (Stellar physics), and No. 176021 (Visible and invisible matter in nearby galaxies: theory and observations) supported by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia. This research was partially supported by the Scientific Research Fund of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Sciences under grant DO 02-137 (BIn-13/09). The Abastumani team acknowledges financial support of the project FR/638/6-320/12 by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation under contract 31/77. T.G. acknowledges support from Istanbul University (Project numbers 49429 and 48285), Bilim Akademisi (BAGEP program), and TUBITAK (project numbers 13AT100-431, 13AT100-466, and 13AT60-430). The Boston University effort was supported in part by NASA grants NNX12AO90G and NNX14AQ58G. Data from the Steward Observatory spectropolarimetric monitoring project were used in this paper. This program is supported by Fermi Guest Investigator grants NNX08AW56G, NNX09AU10G, NNX12AO93G, and NNX15AU81G. The OVRO 40 m monitoring program is supported in part by NASA grants NNX08AW31G and NNX11A043G and NSF grants AST-0808050 and AST-1109911. The Mets?hovi team acknowledges the support from the Academy of Finland to our observing projects (numbers 212656, 210338, 121148, and others). This research has made use of NASA''s Astrophysics Data System and of Astropy, a community-developed core Python package for astronomy (Astropy Collaboration 2013). Facilities: NuSTAR, MAGIC, VERITAS, Fermi, Swift.


  • BL Lacertae objects: individual (Markarian 421)
  • X-rays: galaxies
  • galaxies: active
  • gamma rays: general
  • radiation mechanisms: nonthermal

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