AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 43 Blazar Continuum Variability Across the Electromagnetic Spectrum
Topical Associated Poster, Wednesday, May 28, 2003, 10:00am-6:45pm, West Exhibit Hall

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[43.03] Blazar Monitoring at the Bell Observatory: Results from the First Two Years

W. L. Wills, M. T. Carini, D. Barnaby, A. Atkerson, D. A. Glass, T. R. Monroe, W. T. Ryle (Western Kentucky University)

Active galactic nuclei (AGN) are some of the most energetic objects in the Universe. They are composed of an ordinary elliptical galaxy with a super massive black hole at the center. An accretion disk surrounds the black hole while jets of material, moving at nearly relativistic speeds are emitted perpendicular to the disk. In the Blazar class of AGN jets are pointed almost directly along the line of sight, resulting in large amplitude, erratic brightness variations. Blazars are the most extreme examples of AGN with highly variable continuum emission as one of their defining characteristics. Our primary goal is the monitoring of the brightness variations of Blazars and using these variations to investigate the physics at work in these objects. The Bell Observatory has been used for the past two years to collect data to monitor these continuum variations. Undergraduate students run each observing session from either WKU’s campus via the Internet or on-site. The telescope is equipped with a CCD camera, which is used to obtain images that are then transferred to WKU’s campus where they are archived and analyzed by undergraduate students and faculty mentors. The results of the first two years of monitoring will be presented.

Funding for this research was provided by NASA Kentucky Space Grant Consortium, NASA Kentucky EPSCoR Program, NSF EPSCoR Program, and the Applied Research and Technology Program at Western Kentucky University.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.