Theses Doctoral

Advancing Blazar Science with Very-High-Energy Gamma-Ray Telescopes

Brill, Aryeh Louis

Blazars, active galactic nuclei with relativistic jets pointed almost directly at Earth, are powerful and highly variable sources of nonthermal electromagnetic radiation, including very-high-energy gamma rays. We can detect these gamma rays with arrays of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes (IACTs), including the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) and the upcoming Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). After reviewing the science of blazars and the methods used by IACTs, we investigate how gamma-ray variability can provide insight into blazars' physical properties while also complicating efforts to understand these sources as a population.

We first present a study of three flaring blazars observed with VERITAS and analyze these sources' spectral and variability characteristics, taking into account data at other wavebands, including that of the Large Area Telescope aboard the Fermi space telescope (Fermi-LAT). Next, after laying out how observing biases and intrinsic variability can confound blazar population studies with IACTs, we propose methods to account for these effects, and use simulated data to report expectations for a blazar luminosity function measurement with VERITAS. Sophisticated new instruments and data analysis methods can further expand the frontier of gamma-ray blazar science. To that end, we design a camera software system to enable safer and more efficient operations of a next-generation IACT being developed for CTA, the prototype Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (pSCT). Finally, we develop methods to apply deep neural networks to the analysis of IACT data and employ these methods to reject background events detected by simulated arrays of IACTs.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Mukherjee, Reshmi
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2021