We present optical, X-ray, high-energy (30 GeV) and very high energy (100 GeV; VHE) observations of the high-frequency peaked blazar Mrk 421 taken between 2008 May 24 and June 23. A high-energy γ-ray signal was detected by AGILE with between June 9 and 15, with F(E>100 MeV) = 42+14 -12 × 10-8 photons cm-2 s-1. This flaring state is brighter than the average flux observed by EGRET by a factor of 3, but still consistent with the highest EGRET flux. In hard X-rays (20-60 keV) SuperAGILE resolved a five-day flare (June 9-15) peaking at 55 mCrab. SuperAGILE, RXTE/ASM and Swift/BAT data show a correlated flaring structure between soft and hard X-rays. Hints of the same flaring behavior are also detected in the simultaneous optical data provided by the GASP-WEBT. A Swift/XRT observation near the flaring maximum revealed the highest 2-10 keV flux ever observed from this source, of 2.6 × 10-9 erg cm -2 s-1 (i.e. >100 mCrab). A peak synchrotron energy of 3 keV was derived, higher than typical values of 0.5-1 keV. VHE observations with MAGIC and VERITAS between June 6 and 8 showed the flux peaking in a bright state, well correlated with the X-rays. This extraordinary set of simultaneous data, covering a 12-decade spectral range, allowed for a deep analysis of the spectral energy distribution as well as of correlated light curves. The γ-ray flare can be interpreted within the framework of the synchrotron self-Compton model in terms of a rapid acceleration of leptons in the jet.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science