The extraordinary gamma-ray flare of the blazar 3C 454.3

E. Striani, S. Vercellone, M. Tavani, V. Vittorini, F. D'Ammando, I. Donnarumma, L. Pacciani, G. Pucella, A. Bulgarelli, M. Trifoglio, F. Gianotti, P. Giommi, A. Argan, G. Barbiellini, P. Caraveo, P.W. Cattaneo, A.W. Chen, E. Costa, G. De Paris, E. Del MonteG. Di Cocco, Y. Evangelista, M. Feroci, A. Ferrari, M. Fiorini, F. Fuschino, M. Galli, A. Giuliani, M. Giusti, C. Labanti, F. Lazzarotto, P. Lipari, F. Longo, M. Marisaldi, S. Mereghetti, E. Morelli, E. Moretti, A. Morselli, A. Pellizzoni, F. Perotti, G. Piano, P. Picozza, M. Pilia, M. Prest, M. Rapisarda, A. Rappoldi, S. Sabatini, E. Scalise, P. Soffitta, A. Trois, E. Vallazza, A. Zambra, D. Zanello, C. Pittori, F. Verrecchia, P. Santolamazza, F. Lucarelli, S. Colafrancesco, L.A. Antonelli, L. Salotti

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We present the gamma-ray data of the extraordinary flaring activity above 100 MeV from the flat spectrum radio quasar 3C 454.3 detected by AGILE during the month of 2009 December. 3C 454.3, which has been among the most active blazars of the FSRQ type since 2007, has been detected in the gamma-ray range with a progressively rising flux since 2009 November 10. The gamma-ray flux reached a value comparable with that of the Vela pulsar on 2009 December 2. Remarkably, between 2009 December 2 and 3, the source more than doubled its gamma-ray emission and became the brightest gamma-ray source in the sky with a peak flux of Fγ,p= (2000 ± 400) × 10-8ph cm-2s-1for a 1 day integration above 100 MeV. The gamma-ray intensity decreased in the following days with the source flux remaining at large values near Fγ≃ (1000 ± 200) × 10-8ph cm-2s-1for more than a week. This exceptional gamma-ray flare dissipated among the largest ever detected intrinsic radiated power in gamma-rays above 100 MeV (Lγ,source,peak ≃ 3 × 1046erg s-1, for a relativistic Doppler factor of δ ≃ 30). The total isotropic irradiated energy of the month-long episode in the range 100 MeV-3 GeV is Eγ,iso≃ 1056erg. We report the intensity and spectral evolution of the gamma-ray emission across the flaring episode. We briefly discuss the important theoretical implications of our detection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455 - 459
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Striani, E., Vercellone, S., Tavani, M., Vittorini, V., D'Ammando, F., Donnarumma, I., ... Salotti, L. (2010). The extraordinary gamma-ray flare of the blazar 3C 454.3. Astrophysical Journal, 718(1), 455 - 459.