P. Coppi

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

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Publications (247)519.27 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Outbursts from gamma-ray quasars provide insights on the relativistic jets of active galactic nuclei and constraints on the diffuse radiation fields that fill the Universe. The detection of significant emission above 100 GeV from a distant quasar would show that some of the radiated gamma rays escape pair-production interactions with low-energy photons, be it the extragalactic background light (EBL), or the radiation near the supermassive black hole lying at the jet's base. VERITAS detected gamma-ray emission up to 200 GeV from PKS 1441+25 (z=0.939) during April 2015, a period of high activity across all wavelengths. This observation of PKS 1441+25 suggests that the emission region is located thousands of Schwarzschild radii away from the black hole. The gamma-ray detection also sets a stringent upper limit on the near-ultraviolet to near-infrared EBL intensity, suggesting that galaxy surveys have resolved most, if not all, of the sources of the EBL at these wavelengths.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015
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    ABSTRACT: This paper describes the Polarization Spectroscopic Telescope Array (PolSTAR), a mission proposed to NASA's 2014 Small Explorer (SMEX) announcement of opportunity. PolSTAR measures the linear polarization of 3-50 keV (requirement; goal: 2.5-70 keV) X-rays probing the behavior of matter, radiation and the very fabric of spacetime under the extreme conditions close to the event horizons of black holes, as well as in and around magnetars and neutron stars. The PolSTAR design is based on the technology developed for the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission launched in June 2012. In particular, it uses the same X-ray optics, extendable telescope boom, optical bench, and CdZnTe detectors as NuSTAR. The mission has the sensitivity to measure ~1% linear polarization fractions for X-ray sources with fluxes down to ~5 mCrab. This paper describes the PolSTAR design as well as the science drivers and the potential science return.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) is a ground-based array located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona and is one of the world's most sensitive gamma-ray instruments at energies of 85 GeV to $>$30 TeV. VERITAS has a wide scientific reach that includes the study of extragalactic and Galactic objects as well as the search for astrophysical signatures of dark matter and the measurement of cosmic rays. In this paper, we will summarize the current status of the VERITAS observatory and present some of the scientific highlights from the last two years, focusing in particular on those results shown at the 2015 ICRC in The Hague, Netherlands.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015
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    ABSTRACT: List of contributions from the CTA Consortium presented at the 34th International Cosmic Ray Conference, 30 July - 6 August 2015, The Hague, The Netherlands.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We present the characterization and initial results from the QUEST-La Silla AGN variability survey. This is an effort to obtain well sampled optical light curves in extragalactic fields with unique multi-wavelength observations. We present photometry obtained from 2010 to 2012 in the XMM-COSMOS field, which was observed over 150 nights using the QUEST camera on the ESO-Schmidt telescope. The survey uses a broadband filter, the $Q$-band, similar to the union of the $g$ and the $r$ filters, achieving an intrinsic photometric dispersion of $0.05$ mag, and a systematic error of $0.05$ mag in the zero-point. Since some detectors of the camera show significant non-linearity, we use a linear correlation to fit the zero-points as a function of the instrumental magnitudes, thus obtaining a good correction to the non-linear behavior of these detectors. We obtain good photometry to an equivalent limiting magnitude of $r\sim 20.5$. Studying the optical variability of X-ray detected sources in the XMM-COSMOS field, we find that the survey is $\sim75-80$% complete to magnitudes $r\sim20$, and $\sim67$% complete to a magnitude $r\sim21$. The determination and parameterization of the structure function (${SF}_{norm}(\tau) = A \tau^{\gamma}$) of the variable sources shows that most BL AGN are characterized by $A > 0.1$ and $\gamma > 0.025$. It is further shown that variable NL AGN and GAL sources occupying the same parameter space in $A$ and $\gamma$ are very likely to correspond to obscured or low luminosity AGN. Our samples are, however, small, and we expect to revisit these results using larger samples with longer light curves obtained as part of our ongoing survey.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We present multi-epoch optical spectroscopy of seven southern Fermi-monitored blazars from 2008 to 2013 using the Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS), with supplemental spectroscopy and polarization data from the Steward Observatory. We find that the emission lines are much less variable than the continuum; four of seven blazars had no detectable emission line variability over the 5 yr observation period. This is consistent with photoionization primarily by an accretion disk, allowing us to use the lines as a probe of disk activity. Comparing optical emission line flux with Fermi γ-ray flux and optical polarized flux, we investigate whether relativistic jet variability is related to the accretion flow. In general, we see no such dependence, suggesting that the jet variability is likely caused by internal processes like turbulence or shock acceleration rather than a variable accretion rate. However, three sources showed statistically significant emission line flares in close temporal proximity to very large Fermi γ-ray flares. While we do not have sufficient emission line data to quantitatively assess their correlation with the γ-ray flux, it appears that in some cases the jet might provide additional photoionizing flux to the broad-line region (BLR), which implies that some γ-rays are produced within the BLR, at least for these large flares.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We present multi-epoch optical spectroscopy of seven southern Fermi-monitored blazars from 2008 - 2013 using the Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS), with supplemental spectroscopy and polarization data from the Steward Observatory. We find that the emission lines are much less variable than the continuum; 4 of 7 blazars had no detectable emission line variability over the 5 years. This is consistent with photoionization primarily by an accretion disk, allowing us to use the lines as a probe of disk activity. Comparing optical emission line flux with Fermi $\gamma$-ray flux and optical polarized flux, we investigate whether relativistic jet variability is related to the accretion flow. In general, we see no such dependence, suggesting the jet variability is likely caused by internal processes like turbulence or shock acceleration rather than a variable accretion rate. However, three sources showed statistically significant emission line flares in close temporal proximity to very large Fermi $\gamma$-ray flares. While we do not have sufficient emission line data to quantitatively assess their correlation with the $\gamma$-ray flux, it appears that in some cases, the jet might provide additional photoionizing flux to the broad line region, which implies some gamma-rays are produced within the broad line region, at least for these large flares.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The broad energy range spanned by ASTRO-H instruments, from ~0.3 to 600 keV, with its high spectral resolution calorimeter and sensitive hard X-ray imaging, offers unique opportunities to study black holes and their environments. The ability to measure polarization is particularly novel, with potential sources including blazars, Galactic pulsars and X-ray binaries. In this White Paper, we present an overview of the synergistic instrumental capabilities and the improvements over prior missions. We also show how ASTRO-H fits into the multi-wavelength landscape. We present in more detail examples and simulations of key science ASTRO-H can achieve in a typical 100 ksec observation when data from all four instruments are combined. Specifically, we consider observations of black-hole source (Cyg X-1 and GRS 1915+105), blazars (Mrk 421 and Mrk 501), a quasar (3C 273), radio galaxies (Centaurus A and 3C 120), and active galaxies with a strong starburst (Circinus and NGC 4945). We will also address possible new discoveries expected from ASTRO-H.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014
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    ABSTRACT: The joint JAXA/NASA ASTRO-H mission is the sixth in a series of highly successful X-ray missions developed by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), with a planned launch in 2015. The ASTRO-H mission is equipped with a suite of sensitive instruments with the highest energy resolution ever achieved at E > 3 keV and a wide energy range spanning four decades in energy from soft X-rays to gamma-rays. The simultaneous broad band pass, coupled with the high spectral resolution of Delta E < 7 eV of the micro-calorimeter, will enable a wide variety of important science themes to be pursued. ASTRO-H is expected to provide breakthrough results in scientific areas as diverse as the large-scale structure of the Universe and its evolution, the behavior of matter in the gravitational strong field regime, the physical conditions in sites of cosmic-ray acceleration, and the distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters at different redshifts.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014
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    ABSTRACT: We present well-sampled UBVRIJHK photometry of SN 2002fk starting 12 days before maximum light through 122 days after peak brightness, along with a series of 15 optical spectra from –4 to +95 days since maximum. Our observations show the presence of C II lines in the early-time spectra of SN 2002fk, expanding at 11,000 km s–1 and persisting until 8 days past maximum light with a velocity of ~9000 km s–1. SN 2002fk is characterized by a small velocity gradient of km s–1 day–1, possibly caused by an off-center explosion with the ignition region oriented toward the observer. The connection between the viewing angle of an off-center explosion and the presence of C II in the early-time spectrum suggests that the observation of C II could be also due to a viewing angle effect. Adopting the Cepheid distance to NGC 1309 we provide the first H 0 value based on near-infrared (near-IR) measurements of a Type Ia supernova (SN) between 63.0 ± 0.8 (±3.4 systematic) and 66.7 ± 1.0 (±3.5 systematic) km s–1 Mpc–1, depending on the absolute magnitude/decline rate relationship adopted. It appears that the near-IR yields somewhat lower (6%-9%) H 0 values than the optical. It is essential to further examine this issue by (1) expanding the sample of high-quality near-IR light curves of SNe in the Hubble flow, and (2) increasing the number of nearby SNe with near-IR SN light curves and precise Cepheid distances, which affords the promise to deliver a more precise determination of H 0.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2014 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We perform time-dependent, spatially-resolved simulations of blazar emission to evaluate several flaring scenarios related to magnetic-field amplification and enhanced particle acceleration. The code explicitly accounts for light-travel-time effects and is applied to flares observed in the flat spectrum radio quasar (FSRQ) PKS 0208-512, which show optical/{\gamma}-ray correlation at some times, but orphan optical flares at other times. Changes in both the magnetic field and the particle acceleration efficiency are explored as causes of flares. Generally, external Compton emission appears to describe the available data better than a synchrotron self-Compton scenario, and in particular orphan optical flares are difficult to produce in the SSC framework. X-ray soft-excesses, {\gamma}-ray spectral hardening, and the detections at very high energies of certain FSRQs during flares find natural explanations in the EC scenario with particle acceleration change. Likewise, optical flares with/without {\gamma}-ray counterparts can be explained by different allocations of energy between the magnetization and particle acceleration, which may be related to the orientation of the magnetic field relative to the jet flow. We also calculate the degree of linear polarization and polarization angle as a function of time for a jet with helical magnetic field. Tightening of the magnetic helix immediately downstream of the jet perturbations, where flares occur, can be sufficient to explain the increases in the degree of polarization and a rotation by >= 180 degree of the observed polarization angle, if light-travel-time effects are properly considered.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: Relativistic jets in blazars produce radio through gamma-ray emission, via synchrotron radiation at long wavelengths and inverse Compton scattering at gamma-ray energies. Variability across these wavelengths allows us to estimate the densities and energies of the radiating particles. Yet, the physics of blazar jets is still uncertain; e.g., it is not clear whether the gamma-rays come from sub- or kilo-parsec scales. The unprecedented temporal and spectral sensitivity of the Fermi Space Telescope has ushered in a new era of discovery and over the past 5 years I have obtained queue-scheduled, nightly optical-infrared (OIR) photometry and bi-weekly optical spectroscopy using the Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS) 1.3m+Andicam and 1.5m+RCSpec, in Cerro Tololo, Chile; totaling ~70 gamma-ray bright blazars that are detected nightly with Fermi. In my dissertation, I analyze 5 years of bi-monthly spectroscopy of 6 blazars. I find that the broad lines - which are presumably photoionized by the accretion disk - vary substantially less than the OIR continuum, which is dominated by the Doppler-beamed jet. However, during the largest gamma-ray flares in 3C 454.3 and PKS 1510-089, I see significant broad emission line variations, with lags on the order days and infer that the jet, in its brightest state, contributes significantly to photoionizing the broad-line clouds, meaning the gamma-emitting region is within the broad line region at sub-parsec scales. These variations are not seen at lower gamma-ray fluxes or in any other blazars we observed. I also describe inferences about the jet physics obtained from the SMARTS OIR photometry, which is well correlated with the gamma-ray flux for 11 blazars, with lags of less than one day, strongly supporting the inverse Compton model for gamma-ray production. In addition, color changes in the OIR constrain the ratio of thermal disk to non-thermal jet emission. The color evolution differs by source and also in a given source over timescales of years. In summary, the results of this dissertation provide strong constraints on the location of the gamma-emitting region and the spectral evolution of flaring blazars on short and long timescales.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Since 2008, we have been monitoring southern-hemisphere blazars at optical and near-infrared (OIR) wavelengths using the SMARTS 1.3m+ANDICAM instrument. Our targets are observed simultaneously with the Fermi Gamma-ray telescope providing us with an opportunity to probe the relative contribution of the thermal and non-thermal emission to the broad-band spectral energy distribution. In this poster we present our results which include OIR light curves that, in some cases, show ‘orphan’ flares in OIR fluxes that are not present in gamma-rays. In addition we see evidence for intra-night variability in some blazars. Discrete correlation functions of simultaneous gamma-ray and OIR fluxes suggest there is no lag or lead time between OIR and gamma-ray fluxes during some flares. Finally, color-magnitude diagrams of some blazars show clear changes in color over flares allowing us to study the evolution of accretion disk vs. jet emission during flaring events.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014
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    ABSTRACT: We present multi-epoch optical observations of the blazar 3C 454.3 (z = 0.859) from 2008 August through 2011 December, using the SMARTS Consortium 1.5m+RCSpectrograph and 1.3m+ANDICAM in Cerro Tololo, Chile. The spectra reveal that the broad optical emission lines Mg II, H-beta and H-gamma are far less variable than the optical or gamma-ray continuum. Although, the gamma-rays varied by a factor of 100 above the EGRET era flux, the lines generally vary by a factor of 2 or less. Smaller variations in the gamma-ray flux did not produce significant variation in any of the observed emission lines. Therefore, to first order, the ionizing flux from the disk changes only slowly during large variations of the jet. However, two exceptions in the response of the broad emission lines are reported during the largest gamma-ray flares in 2009 December and 2010 November, when significant deviations from the mean line flux in H-gamma and Mg II were observed. H-gamma showed a maximum 3-sigma and 4-sigma deviation in each flare, respectively, corresponding to a factor of 1.7 and 2.5 increase in flux. Mg II showed a 2-sigma deviation in both flares; no variation was detected in H-beta during either flare. These significant deviations from the mean line flux also coincide with 7mm core ejections reported previously (Jorstad et al. 2012). The correlation of the increased emission line flux with mm core ejections, and gamma-ray, optical and UV flares suggests that the broad line region extends beyond the gamma-emitting region during the 2009 and 2010 flares.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2013 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: As part of a long-term blazar monitoring campaign, we observe gamma-ray bright (as determined by the Fermi Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope) blazars with the SMARTS 1.3m+ANDICAM telescope in Cerro Tololo, Chile. For the past several nights, PKS 2326-502 has been brightening in the optical/IR bands, following an optical flare (ATel #5393) that peaked in O/IR on 28 September 2013 (JD 2456564.6) at R = 14.865.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Recently we have monitored the blazar 3C 454.3 daily using the ANDICAM instrument on the SMARTS 1.3m telescope in Chile. As already noted by other observers (ATel #5411, ATel #5412) 3C 454.3 is undergoing an increase in optical and near-infrared fluxes, and is exhibiting intra-night variability. Here we report on our most recent optical and near-infrared observations. On 24 Sep 2013 (JD 2456560) we obtained three observations in BVRJK bands, each separated by approximately one hour.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Recently we have monitored the blazar PKS 1510-089 daily using the ANDICAM instrument on the SMARTS 1.3m telescope in Chile. Since 11 September 2013 (or soon beforehand) PKS 1510-089 has undergone a very short but significant flare in optical and near-infrared (OIR) fluxes. The peak of the flare is comparable, but not as high, as the flare seen in 2009, and it is the highest OIR flux we've observed over the past four years.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013
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    ABSTRACT: The La Silla-QUEST Low Redshift Supernova Survey is a part of the La Silla-QUEST Southern Hemisphere Variability Survey. The survey uses the 10 deg2 QUEST camera installed at the prime focus of the 1.0-m Schmidt Telescope of the European Southern Observatory at La Silla, Chile, and utilizes essentially all of the observing time of the telescope. The QUEST camera was installed on the ESO Schmidt telescope in 2009 after completing a 5 year variability survey in the northern hemisphere using the 1.2-m Oschin Schmidt telescope at Palomar. La Silla-QUEST started science operations in 2009 September. The low redshift supernova survey commenced in 2011 December and is planned to continue for the next 4 years. In this article we describe the instrumentation, software, operation, and performance characteristics of the survey.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
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    ABSTRACT: Since the discovery of kiloparsec-scale X-ray emission from quasar jets, the physical processes responsible for their high-energy emission have been poorly defined. A number of mechanisms are under active debate, including synchrotron radiation, inverse-Comptonized CMB (IC/CMB) emission, and other Comptonization processes. In a number of cases, the optical and X-ray emission of jet regions are inked by a single spectral component, and in those, high- resolution multi-band imaging and polarimetry can be combined to yield a powerful diagnostic of jet emission processes. Here we report on deep imaging photometry of the jet of PKS 1136$-$135 obtained with the {\it Hubble Space Telescope.} We find that several knots are highly polarized in the optical, with fractional polarization $\Pi>30%$. When combined with the broadband spectral shape observed in these regions, this is very difficult to explain via IC/CMB models, unless the scattering particles are at the lowest-energy tip of the electron energy distribution, with Lorentz factor $\gamma \sim 1$, and the jet is also very highly beamed ($\delta \geq 20$) and viewed within a few degrees of the line of sight. We discuss both the IC/CMB and synchrotron interpretation of the X-ray emission in the light of this new evidence, presenting new models of the spectral energy distribution and also the matter content of this jet. The high polarizations do not completely rule out the possibility of IC/CMB optical-to-X-ray emission in this jet, but they do strongly disfavor the model. We discuss the implications of this finding, and also the prospects for future work.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: The Yale/SMARTS optical-near-IR monitoring program has followed the variations in emission of the Fermi-LAT monitored blazars in the southern sky with closely spaced observations since 2008. We report the discovery of an optical-near-IR (OIR) outburst with no accompanying gamma-rays in the blazar PKS 0208-512, one of the targets of this program. While the source undergoes three outbursts of 1 mag or more at OIR wavelengths lasting for longer than 3 months during 2008-2011, only interval 1 and 3 have corresponding bright phases in GeV energies lasting longer than 1 month. The OIR outburst during interval 2 is comparable in brightness and temporal extent to the OIR flares during intervals 1 and 3 which do have gamma-ray counterparts. Gamma-ray and OIR variability are very well-correlated in most cases in the Fermi blazars and the lack of correlation in this case is anomalous. By analyzing the gamma-ray, OIR, and supporting multi-wavelength variability data in details, we speculate that the location of the outburst in the jet during interval 2 was closer to the black hole where the jet is more compact and the magnetic field strength is higher, and the bulk Lorentz factor of the material in the jet is smaller. These result in a much lower Compton dominance and no observable gamma-ray outburst during interval 2.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013

Publication Stats

6k Citations
519.27 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1996-2015
    • Yale University
      • • Department of Astronomy
      • • Department of Physics
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 2005
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Physics
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 2003
    • University of Santiago, Chile
      • Departamento de Economía
      CiudadSantiago, Santiago Metropolitan, Chile
  • 2001
    • University of Cambridge
      • Institute of Astronomy
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1997
    • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
      Batavia, Illinois, United States
  • 1992-1993
    • University of Chicago
      • • Enrico Fermi Institute
      • • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 1989
    • California Institute of Technology
      Pasadena, California, United States