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Optical Observations of the Blazars CTA 102, 3C 454.3 and CTA 26: A Bright Optical Flare in CTA 102

ATel #8598; Thomas Balonek (Colgate Univ.)
on 28 Jan 2016; 10:53 UT
Credential Certification: Thomas J. Balonek (tbalonek@colgate.edu)

Subjects: Optical, AGN, Blazar, Quasar

Referred to by ATel #: 8722, 9732

We report optical (R) observations on JD 2457415 (2016 January 28 UT) of three blazars that have recently undergone NIR flares. CTA 102 (2230+114) is undergoing a very bright optical flare, 3C 454.3 (2251+158) is displaying moderate activity, and CTA 26 (0336-019) is not flaring. CTA 102 was observed on JD 2457415.50 (2016 January 28, 0.0 UT) at R = 13.9 +/- 0.1, comparable in brightness to the peak of the 2012 outburst (Larionov et al 2013, EPJ Web of Conferences, 61, 04019). This is nearly 2 magnitudes brighter than our previous measurement a month earlier on JD 2457381.56 (2015 December 25, 1.5 UT) at R = 15.7 +/- 0.2. This optical flare could be associated with the NIR flare observed on 2016 January 14 reported by Carrasco et al (ATEL #8590), and the enhanced gamma-ray activity in late December 2015 reported by Carpenter et al (ATEL #8478) and Bulgarelli et al (ATEL #8476). Multifrequency observations are encouraged. 3C 454.3 was observed on JD 2457399.56 (2016 January 12, 1.4 UT) at R = 14.9 +/- 0.1 and JD 2457415.53 (2016 January 28, 0.6 UT) at R = 14.7 +/- 0.1, a moderate brightness increase since December 2015 when the object ranged between R = 15.6 and 15.2. This recent activity may be related to the NIR flare in mid-January 2016 reported by Carrasco et al (ATEL #8589). Since this range of optical brightness is similar to what we have observed since September 2015, our observations in January do not provide evidence for a particularly strong optical flare. However any rapid flaring may have been missed due to our poor time sampling in January. CTA 26 was observed on JD 2457415.3 (2016 January 28, 4.3 UT) at R = 17.3 +/- 0.4. This observation indicates the object was not undergoing strong flaring at optical wavelengths, two weeks after the NIR flare of mid-January 2016 (Carrasco et al, ATEL #8575). Observations were obtained with the Colgate University Foggy Bottom Observatory 0.4m telescope, equipped with a Photometrics Star 1 CCD camera.