AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 17. AGN, QSOs and Active Galaxies
Oral, Monday, June 3, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, Ballroom A

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[17.07] Optical Variability of the Blazar 3C 279

T.J. Balonek, J.S. Kartaltepe (Colgate Univ.)

We present a fourteen year optical (R) light curve for the blazar 3C 279 from 1989 through 2002. We study both the long and short timescale variations during this period, but concentrate on the longer timescale variations. Although 3C 279 has been the object of several previous studies, our investigation of the long term activity covering several outbursts is among the most extensive and well-sampled at visual wavelengths. Some of the observations reported here have been used in earlier multi-wavelength campaigns to study the radio through gamma-ray broadband spectrum and variability.

Observations were conducted at the Foggy Bottom Observatory at Colgate University using a sixteen inch Cassegrain telescope and CCD camera. Images are obtained on most clear nights during the observing season for this object, which for our site extends from mid-November to early August. In a typical year observations are obtained on fifty to sixty nights. In total, approximately 4500 images have been obtained on about 800 nights.

The blazar has been active throughout the fourteen year period of this study, with the brightness ranging over four magnitudes (from R = 16.7 to 12.5). Several outbursts (which we define as periods of sustained activity lasting between half a year and several years) have been observed, perhaps superposed on a decade timescale underlying "base level" increase. During the outbursts there are multiple (usually overlapping) flares lasting from one to several weeks. During the flares, intra-night and night-to-night variations (which we categorize as microvariablity) can be as large as 0.2 magnitude in five hours or 0.5 magnitude in one day.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://blazar.colgate.edu/astronomy/sciresults.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: tbalonek@mail.colgate.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.