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Long-Term and Rapid Radio Variability of the Blazar 3C 454.3 in 2010–2017

A. G. Gorshkov, A. V. Ipatov, I. A. Ipatova, V. K. Konnikova, V. V. Mardyshkin, M. G. Mingaliev, M. A. Kharinov

Astronomy Reports, Volume 62, Issue 3, 183–199 (2018)

DOI: 10.1134/S1063772918030046

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The article presents the results of observations of the blazar 3C 454.3 (J2253+1608), obtained in 2010–2017 on the RATAN-600 radio telescope of the Special Astrophysical Observatory at 4.6, 8.2, 11.2, and 21.7 GHz and on the 32-m Zelenchuk and Badary radio telescopes of the Quasar VLBI Network of the Institute of Applied Astronomy at 4.84 and 8.57 GHz. Long-term variability of the radio emission is studied, as well as variability on time scales of several days and intraday variability (IDV). Two flares were observed in the long-term light curve, in 2010 and in 2015–2017. The flux density at 21.7 GHz increased by a factor of ten during these flares. The delay in the maximum of the first flare at 4.85 GHz relative to the maximum at 21.7 GHz was six months. The time scale for variability on the descending branch of the first flare at 21.7 GHz was τvar = 1.2 yrs, yielding an upper limit on the linear size of the emitting region of 0.4 pc, corresponding to an angular size of 0.06 mas. The brightness temperature during the flare exceeded the Compton limit, implying a Doppler factor δ = 3.5, consistent with the known presence of a relativistic jet oriented close to the line of sight. No significant variability on time scales from several days to several weeks was found in five sets of daily observations carried out over 120 days. IDV was detected at 8.57 GHz on the 32-m telescopes in 30 of 61 successful observing sessions, with the presence of IDV correlated with the maxima of flares. The characteristic time scale for the IDV was from two to ten hours. A number of IDV light curves show the presence of a time delay in the maxima in the light curves for simultaneous observations carried out on the Badary and Zelenchuk antennas, which are widely separated in longitude. This demonstrates that the IDV most like arises in the interstellar medium.