Published in Advances in Space Research, Vol. 21, Issue 1-2, p. 89, 1998


C. Megan Urry

Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore MD 21218, USA

ABSTRACT. The multiwavelength spectra of blazars appear to be dominated by nonthermal emission from a relativistic jet oriented close to the line of sight. The recent detection of many blazars at gamma-ray energies strongly supports this scenario. High quality multiwavelength monitoring data for the brightest one or two blazars suggest the optical through X-ray continuum is synchrotron emission from an inhomogeneous jet. The gamma-rays are likely due to Compton scattering of lower energy photons, either from within the jet or from the surrounding gas. The physical properties of the jet and the way in which it is produced are still largely a mystery but are probably related in some way to accretion onto a central supermassive black hole. There is little direct observational evidence for accretion disks in blazars, although there is evidence for winds which might emanate from disks.

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