AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 42 Quasars and Active Galaxies
Poster, Wednesday, May 28, 2003, 10:00am-6:45pm, West Exhibit Hall

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[42.19] An Optical / X-ray Flare in the Jet of M87

J. A. Biretta (STScI), D. E. Harris (CfA), E. S. Perlman (UMBC), W. B. Sparks (STScI)

We present multi-wavelength HST and Chandra monitoring of the M87 jet spanning 1999 - 2002. Beginning in early 2001 a dramatic flare is seen in knot HST-1 which is located 0.9" (projected distance 70 pc) from the galaxy nucleus. During the next ~18 months the optical / UV brightness of HST-1 increases in a quasi-linear fashion reaching a factor >10 increase by the end of 2002, and rivaling the nucleus as the brightest feature in the galaxy. A similar outburst is seen simultaneously in the X-ray band, though the X-ray light curve appears significantly more complex. The optical and X-ray outbursts are co-located and are coincident with the edge of HST-1 nearest the nucleus, a region which has previously been seen to emit superluminal components. The spectrum of the outburst is consistent with synchrotron emission, though details of the spectrum are complex. The evolution of the spectrum as well as data from early 2003 will be discussed. This is the first optical / X-ray flare seen in an extragalactic jet from a region spatially distinct from the nucleus, and provides a unique laboratory for the study of particle acceleration in jets.

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