Using gravitationally lensed images to investigate the intrinsic AGN variability
Journal article, 2016
We discuss about how the relative flux densities among the images of gravitationally-lensed active galactic nuclei (AGN), can be used to study the intrinsic AGN variability with high accuracy. Multi-frequency monitoring observations of resolved gravitational lenses can allow us to detect signals of very weak variability and also provide information about the jet opacity and structure. As an example, we investigate the variability of the flux-density ratio between the two lensed images of the blazar B 0218+357, using dual-frequency cm-wave observations. Similar to our previously reported submm-wave observations of the lensed blazar PKS 1830-211, we observe a clear chromatic variability, starting short before an increase in the flux-density of the blazar. The evolution of the flux-density ratios between the blazar images shows a more clear and rich structure than that of the mere lightcurves of each individual image. The accuracy in the ratio measurements is allowing us to see variability episodes in the blazar that are weaker than the natural scatter in the absolute flux-density measurements. A simple opacity model in the jet is used to consistently explain the difference between the flux-density-ratio evolution at the two frequencies.
Gravitational lensing: strong
Acceleration of particles
Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal