Statistical study of multi-frequency emission in blazars
Williamson, Karen E.
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Blazars are active galactic nuclei characterized by ultra-luminous broad-band, non-thermal radio to gamma-ray continuum radiation, and by irregular, rapid flux variability across wavebands. They are divided into two subclasses: BL Lac objects and flat spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs). A primary method employed to probe our understanding of these objects is to study their spectral energy distributions (SEDs). Until recently, however, studies of blazar SEDs have been hindered by an insufficient number of simultaneous observations across the spectrum, a critical deficiency with such variable objects. In this thesis, I discuss the data accumulated by an international, long-term, 35-blazar monitoring program led by the Boston University blazar group. By systematically processing these data, I produce SEDs using measurements obtained on average within nine hours per epoch. Sufficient measurements exist within the data set to study the sources in differing states of activity. I propose a definition of quiescent and active states, and extract measurements for epochs during which the sources were either quiescent or active in the gamma-ray regime. For these epochs, I measure the spectral slopes and statistically analyze the relationships between slopes at the different frequency regimes. While the subclasses exhibit some distinct characteristics in the optical and gamma-ray indices when quiescent, these distinctions are significantly less pronounced when the objects are active. The spectral indices for the FSRQs steepen when active in the optical, flatten in the gamma-ray, and remain flat and stable in the X-ray. Generally, BL Lacs exhibit less pronounced changes between states than do the FSRQs.