The very high energy (VHE; E> 100 GeV) blazar Markarian 501 was observed between April 17 and May 5 (MJD 54 938-54 956), 2009, as part of an extensive multi-wavelength campaign from radio to VHE. Strong VHE γ-ray activity was detected on May 1st with Whipple and VERITAS, when the flux (E > 400 GeV) increased to 10 times the pre-flare baseline flux (3.9 × 10-11 ph cm-2 s-1), reaching five times the flux of the Crab Nebula. This coincided with a decrease in the optical polarization and a rotation of the polarization angle by 15°. This VHE flare showed a fast flux variation with an increase of a factor ∼4 in 25 min, and a falling time of ∼50 min. We present the observations of the quiescent state previous to the flare and of the high state after the flare, focusing on the flux and spectral variability from Whipple, VERITAS, Fermi-LAT, RXTE, and Swift combined with optical and radio data.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research is supported by grants from the US Department of Energy Office of Science, the US National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution, and by NSERC in Canada. 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 Fermi LAT Collaboration acknowledges support from a number of agencies and institutes for both development and the operation of the LAT as well as scientific data analysis. These include NASA and DOE in the United States, CEA/Irfu and IN2P3/CNRS in France, ASI and INFN in Italy, MEXT, KEK, and JAXA in Japan, and the K. A.Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Research Council and the National Space Board in Sweden. Additional support from INAF in Italy and CNES in France for science analysis during the operations phase is also gratefully acknowledged. M.B. acknowledges support through the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) by the National Research Foundation and the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa.
- BL Lacertae objects: individual: Mrk 501
- Gamma rays: galaxies