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A Dramatic Optical Flare and Microvariability in the Blazar 3C 454.3

ATel #9178; Thomas J. Balonek (Colgate Univ.), Samantha J. Boni (Bridgewater State Univ & Colgate Univ), Katie J. Chapman, Nicholas A. Didio, Alina Sabyr, R. William Stahlin, Zachary R. Weaver, Saiyang Zhang (Colgate Univ)
on 22 Jun 2016; 00:02 UT
Credential Certification: Thomas J. Balonek (tbalonek@colgate.edu)

Subjects: Optical, AGN, Blazar, Quasar

Referred to by ATel #: 9190, 9192, 9723

Following up on the report of optical and gamma-ray activity in the blazar 3C 454.3 by Jorstad (ATel# 9150), Lucarelli et al (ATel #9157), and Bulgarelli et al (ATel #9176), we report optical (R) observations which reveal a brightening of over 2 magnitudes in a 10 day interval between 2016 June 10 and 20. The brightness on June 20 (R = 13.7) is 1.2 magnitudes brighter than reported by Jorstad on June 13, and is the brightest 3C 454.3 has been observed in two years. In addition, microvariability of 0.15 magnitudes (fading) was observed in 2.3 hours on June 19 and 0.10 magnitudes (brightening) in 1.7 hours on June 20.

The average brightness is calculated from typically a dozen two-minute images taken in a sequence lasting forty-five minutes. Photometric errors from individual images range from 0.02 to 0.05 magnitudes, depending on the object brightness and sky conditions. On June 18, 19 and 20, several sequences were obtained over 1.75 to 2.25 hours. Our preliminary results are presented below.

2016-06-06 07.68 UT (JD 2,457,545.820) R=15.83

2016-06-10 07.73 UT (JD 2,457,549.822) R=15.79

2016-06-14 08.00 UT (JD 2,457,553.833) R=15.09

2016-06-15 08.23 UT (JD 2,457,554.843) R=14.70

2016-06-18 06.97 UT (JD 2,457,557.791) R=14.04

2016-06-19 07.40 UT (JD 2,457,558.808) R=13.98 (range 13.89-14.04)

2016-06-20 06.35 UT (JD 2,457,559.765) R=13.74 (range 13.79-13.69)

Observations were obtained with the Colgate University Foggy Bottom Observatory (Hamilton, NY) 0.4-m telescope, equipped with a Photometrics Star 1 CCD camera.

We encourage multi-wavelength observations of this significant outburst, which has already exhibited rapid variations.