Very High Energy emission at the Cosmic Gamma Ray Horizon: a MAGIC discovery happened thanks to gravitational lensing
November 17th, 2016
The Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescopes reported the discovery of the most distant gamma-ray source ever observed at very high energies, thanks to the “replay” of an enormous flare by a galactic gravitational lens as foreseen by Einstein’s General Relativity. QSO B0218+357 is a gravitationally lensed blazar located at a redshift of 0.944. The gravitational lensing splits the emitted radiation into two components separated by a 10–12 day delay. In July 2014, QSO B0218+357 experienced a violent flare observed by the Fermi-LAT and followed by the MAGIC telescopes. The spectral energy distribution of QSO B0218+357 can give information on the energetics of z ~ 1 very high energy gamma-ray sources. Moreover the gamma-ray emission can also be used as a probe of the extragalactic background light at z ~ 1. MAGIC performed observations of QSO B0218+357 during the expected arrival time of the delayed component of the emission. The MAGIC and Fermi-LAT observations were accompanied by quasi-simultaneous optical data from the KVA telescope and X-ray observations by Swift-XRT. We construct a multiwavelength spectral energy distribution of QSO B0218+357 and use it to model the source. The GeV and sub-TeV data obtained by Fermi-LAT and MAGIC are used to set constraints on the extragalactic background light. Very high energy gamma-ray emission was detected from the direction of QSO B0218+357 by the MAGIC telescopes during the expected time of arrival of the trailing component of the flare, making it the farthest very high energy gamma-ray source detected to date. The combined MAGIC and Fermi-LAT spectral energy distribution of QSO B0218+357 is consistent with current extragalactic background light models. The broadband emission can be modeled in the framework of a two-zone external Compton scenario, where the GeV emission comes from an emission region in the jet, located outside the broad line region.
Work published in A&A 595, A98 (2016) ( http://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/abs/2016/11/aa29461-16/aa29461-16.html)