case western reserve university



Probing Deeply into the Inner Jets of Blazars

Alan Marscher (Boston University)

Quasars and other active galactic nuclei with relativistic plasma jets pointing almost directly at us are collectively called "blazars." Because of the near-light-speed motions and dynamic conditions, blazars are famous for rapid variability of their brightness across the electromagnetic spectrum, including occasional major outbursts of radiation. Our group monitors blazars with a wide range of instruments to obtain sequences of images of the jets as well as well-sampled light curves in flux and polarization. This rich dataset is now allowing us to use variability to investigate the physical structure and activity of the jets closer to the accreting supermassive black hole that powers quasars than has been possible before. I will report on our recent findings, including the combination of our program with gamma-ray light curves collected by the newly launched Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.