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Bright optical outburst with rapid optical variability of the blazar 3C 279

ATel #10161; F. Jankowsky, D. Glawion, S. Schwemmer, S. Wagner (LSW Heidelberg)
on 10 Mar 2017; 15:36 UT
Distributed as an Instant Email Notice Transients
Credential Certification: Felix Jankowsky (f.jankowsky@lsw.uni-heidelberg.de)

Subjects: Optical, Gamma Ray, >GeV, TeV, VHE, AGN, Blazar, Quasar

Referred to by ATel #: 10188

Optical observations of the gamma-ray bright, flat-spectrum radio quasar 3C 279 (z=0.536) with the Automatic Telescope for Optical Monitoring (ATOM) confirm a very bright optical state and rapid flares. Increased optical flux has already been reported in ATel #10121. Multi-band observations conducted between MJD 57818.5 and MJD 57822.5 with ATOM reveal a very bright state (m_R < 12.9) and very rapid variations during these nights.
This includes a flare with a FWHM of 15 minutes with an R-band luminosity exceeding 1e47 erg/s (at MJD 57820.11). This is the highest luminosity level measured for 3C 279 since ten years of monitoring this object with ATOM.

While the high optical state in not accompanied by a high gamma-ray flux measured with the Fermi-LAT instrument, the short time-scales clearly indicate a non-thermal origin.

Further optical monitoring is encouraged.

ATOM is a 75 cm telescope located at the H.E.S.S. site in the Khomas Highlands in Namibia. It regularly monitors galactic and extragalactic gamma-ray emitters and will continue multi-band observation of 3C 279.