High energy variability of 3C 273 during the AGILE multiwavelength campaign of December 2007 - January 2008

Pacciani, L.
Donnarumma, I.
Vittorini, V.
D'Ammando, F.
Fiocchi, M. T.
Impiombato, D.
Stratta, G.
Verrecchia, F.
Bulgarelli, A.
Chen, A. W.
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We report the results of a 3-weeks multi-wavelength campaign on the flat spectrum radio quasar 3C 273 carried out with the AGILE gamma-ray mission, covering the 30 MeV -50 GeV and 18-60 keV, the REM observatory (covering the near-IR and optical), Swift (near-UV/Optical, 0.2-10 keV and 15-50 keV), INTEGRAL (3 - 200 keV) and Rossi XTE (2-12 keV). This is the first observational campaign including gamma-ray data, after the last EGRET observations, more than 8 years ago. Our study was carried out using simultaneous light curves of the source flux from all the involved instruments, in the different energy ranges, in search for correlated variability. Then a time-resolved SED was used for a detailed physical modelling of the emission mechanisms. The source was detected in gamma-rays only in the second week of our campaign. We found indication of a possible anti-correlation between the emission at gamma-rays and at soft and hard X-rays, supported by the complete set of instruments. Instead, optical data do not show short term variability. Only in two EGRET observations (in 1993 and 1997) 3C 273 showed intra-observation variability in gamma-rays. The SED with almost simultaneous data, partially covers the regions of the synchrotron emission, the big blue bump, and the inverse-Compton. The soft X-ray emission is consistent with combined SSC and EC mechanisms, while hard X and gamma-ray emissions are compatible with EC from thermal photons of the disk. The time evolution of the SED is well interpreted and modelled in terms of an acceleration episode of the electrons population, leading to a shift in the IC peak towards higher energies.
Comment: Regular paper, Acceped by Astronomy & Astrophysics, 25 pages, 7 tables, 5 figures