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Paper: X-Ray Variability of BL Lac Objects
Volume: 159, BL Lac Phenomenon
Page: 155
Authors: McHardy, Ian
Abstract: I present an overview of the X-ray temporal and spectral variability of BL Lacs on both short and long timescales. The previously observed behaviour of short (~days) flares superimposed on a relatively steady `quiescent' level is still broadly correct. However, for the brighter BL Lacs, the well sampled lightcurves from the RXTE ASM show that the `quiescent' level also varies considerably on timescales of ~100 days in a manner similar to that seen in Optically Violently Variable Quasars (OVVs) such as 3C279 and 3C273. Possible reasons for this behaviour are discussed. For the large majority of BL Lacs the soft and medium energy X-ray bands are dominated by synchrotron emission and, unlike the case of OVVs, the emission mechanism is not in doubt. Most interest then centres on the structure of the emitting region, and the electron acceleration processes, particularly during outbursts. That structure, and the acceleration processes, can be investigated by consideration of the spectral variability during flares, which is not simple. I review the observations of spectral variability and consider the evidence for and against homogeneous models. I also briefly compare the X-ray spectral variability of BL Lacs with that of OVVs such as 3C273.
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