Vol 15, No 5

Model simulation for periodic double-peaked outbursts in blazar OJ 287: binary black hole plus lighthouse effect

Shan-Jie Qian


Abstract The mechanism of formation for double-peaked optical outbursts observed in blazar OJ 287 is studied. It is shown that they could be explained in terms of a lighthouse effect for superluminal optical knots ejected from the center of the galaxy that move along helical magnetic fields. It is assumed that the orbital motion of the secondary black hole in the supermassive binary black hole system induces the 12-year quasi-periodicity in major optical outbursts by the interaction with the disk around the primary black hole. This interaction between the secondary black hole and the disk of the primary black hole (e.g. tidal effects or magnetic coupling) excites or injects plasmons (or relativistic plasmas plus magnetic field) into the jet which form superluminal knots. These knots are assumed to move along helical magnetic field lines to produce the optical double-peaked outbursts by the lighthouse effect. The four double-peaked outbursts observed in 1972, 1983, 1995 and 2005 are simulated using this model. It is shown that such lighthouse models are quite plausible and feasible for fitting the double-flaring behavior of the outbursts. The main requirement may be that in OJ 287 there exists a rather long (~40–60 pc) highly collimated zone, where the lighthouse effect occurs.


Keywords optical continuum — galaxies: jets — galaxies: kinematics — galaxies: variability — galaxies: individual (blazar OJ 287))

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