2005–2010 Multiwavelength Campaing of OJ287

M. Valtonen, A. Sillanpää


The light curve of quasar OJ287 extends from 1891 up today without major gaps. This is partly due to extensive studies of historical plate archives by Rene Hudec and associates, and partly due to several observing campaigns in recent times. Here we summarize the results of the 2005–2010 observing campaign, in which several hundred scientists and amateur astronomers took part. The main results are the following: (1) The 2005 October optical outburst came at the expected time, thus confirming the General Relativistic precession in the binary black hole system, as was originally proposed bySillanp¨a¨a et al. (1988). At the same time, this result disproved the model of a single black hole system with accretion disk oscillations, as well as several toy models of binaries without relativistic precession. In the latter models the main outburst would have been a year later. No particular activity was seen in OJ287 in 2006 October. (2) The nature of the radiation of the 2005 October outburst was expected to be bremsstrahlung from hot gas at a temperature of 3 × 105 K. The reason for the outburst is a collision of the secondary on the accretion disk of the primary, which heats the gas to this temperature. This was confirmed by combined ground based and ultraviolet observations using the XMM-Newton X-ray telescope. (3) A secondary outburst of the same nature was expected at 2007 September 13. Within the accuracy of the observations (about 6 hours), it started at the correct time. Thus the prediction was accurate at the same level as the prediction of the return of Halley’s comet in 1986. Due to the bremsstrahlung nature of the outburst, the radiation was unpolarised, as expected. (4) Further synchrotron outbursts were expected following the two bremsstrahlung outbursts.They came as scheduled between 2007 October and 2009 December. (5) Due to the effect of the secondary on the overall direction of the jet, the parsec scale jet was expected to rotate in the sky by a large angle around 2009. This rotation has been seen in high frequency radio observations. The OJ287 binary black hole system is currently our best laboratory for testing theories of gravitation. Using OJ287, the correctness of General Relativity has now been demonstrated up to second Post-Newtonian order, higher than has been possible using binary pulsars.


quasars: general – quasars: individual (OJ287) – BL Lacertae objects: individual (OJ287).

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague