Multiwavelength variability and correlation studies of Mrk 421 during historically low X-ray and γ-ray activity in 2015-2016
Accepted for publication in Mon. Non. R. Astron. Soc., December 2020
We report a characterization of the multi-band flux variability and correlations of the nearby (z=0.031) blazar Markarian 421 (Mrk 421) using data from Metsähovi, Swift, Fermi-LAT, MAGIC, FACT and other collaborations and instruments from November 2014 till June 2016. Mrk 421 did not show any prominent flaring activity, but exhibited periods of historically low activity above 1 TeV (F>1TeV < 1.7× 10-12 ph cm-2 s-1) and in the 2-10 keV (X-ray) band (F2 - 10 keV < 3.6 × 10-11 erg cm-2 s-1), during which the Swift-BAT data suggests an additional spectral component beyond the regular synchrotron emission.The highest flux variability occurs in X-rays and very-high-energy (E>0.1 TeV) γ-rays, which, despite the low activity, show a significant positive correlation with no time lag. The HRkeV and HRTeV show the harder-when-brighter trend observed in many blazars, but the trend flattens at the highest fluxes, which suggests a change in the processes dominating the blazar variability. Enlarging our data set with data from years 2007 to 2014, we measured a positive correlation between the optical and the GeV emission over a range of about 60 days centered at time lag zero, and a positive correlation between the optical/GeV and the radio emission over a range of about 60 days centered at a time lag of 43+9−6 days.This observation is consistent with the radio-bright zone being located about 0.2 parsec downstream from the optical/GeV emission regions of the jet. The flux distributions are better described with a LogNormal function in most of the energy bands probed, indicating that the variability in Mrk 421 is likely produced by a multiplicative process.