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Optical outburst of the quasar CTA 102

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#26 leeasle

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 08:06 PM

Did a quick RGB image of it Thursday night, and also photometric observations in V (mag 12.6) and in B (mag 13.2)

 

Of course major cloud outbreak here for the next 4 days, hopefully I can pick it up again on Tuesday.

 

Lynn

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • CTA 102_RGB_120sec_120216.jpg

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#27 mkothe

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 11:06 PM

I think I just saw it before the clouds rolled in!!

 

I'm in suburban Boston and my conditions were not great, with slight haze and the neighbor's garage light blasting in my face. So I hid behind my deck and gave it a try with my 12.5" and the Sky and Telescope chart. Honestly, I did not expect to see it. Zeta Pegasi was the last star on the way I could see naked eye.

 

Once I had HD212989 in the eyepiece I made it to the 12.9 star fairly quickly, but that was at the limit of detection for me under these conditions. It took all I got: Zoom eyepiece to dial in and out and observing hood to block out the light, but I did notice (observe would be an overstatement) something of similar, maybe slightly fainer magnitude than that star at the location indicated on the chart. I could not hold it even with averted vision, and the 12.9 mag star was a bit easier, so I think it must be a bit fainter than 12.9 now. I don't think what I saw was the 14.0 mag star nearby, as that would have been too faint and CTA-102 is supposed to be still brighter than those, right?

 

So I think I can claim that observation, and now I will have a clear answer the next time someone asks me how far I can see with that scope  :cool:


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#28 Astrojensen

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:54 AM

I attempted an observation yesterday, first with my 80/1200mm Vixen achromat, because I already had it outside from earlier that evening, and later with my 12" dobsonian. I am fairly confident I must have spotted it, but I am not 100% sure and it was very marginal. The conditions were poor at the time I got out (around 9.00 P.M.) and it was already quite low in the west. I could not identify enough stars to pinpoint the location and was also constantly troubled by clouds and haze. 

 

I had originally planned to see it with the 63mm Zeiss, because world records, but the conditions didn't allow it and Alexander beat me to it. I take comfort in the fact, that it has now been seen in a 63mm, if not by me. It's quite amazing, when you think about it, to be able to see an object 8 billion light years away in a 63mm. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#29 AllanDystrup

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 04:57 AM

I saw it yesterday evening, with my small 50mm refractor (Vixen FL-55S/440).

 

Well, I didn't really try hard with pure glass eyepieces, but when I switched to EAA,

it was obvious on the screen in live video. I confirmed the location this morning.

Estimated brightnes ~ 13.2m. Here's a snapshot of the view (no processing at all) :

 

CTA-102.jpg

 

Allan


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#30 Astrojensen

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 05:04 AM

From the visual reports, it's pretty clear that it changes brightness abrubtly, by around a whole magnitude, from night to night.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark



#31 Sasa

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 05:26 AM

I am fairly confident I must have spotted it, but I am not 100% sure and it was very marginal.

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


Thomas, these are right words that would describe my observation in 63mm Telementor. If I had not seen it 2 hours before in 110mm refractor my confidence would be much smaller. I new the star field because of that and I knew there was nothing similar in brightness around.

BTW, strictly speaking, it was not Telementor. I put the tube on Zeiss 1b mount I was using for AS110 the same night. Without driven mount, it would be much worse.

#32 Sasa

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:26 PM

Was out again today with AS110. The quasar was more difficult than yesterday, I would say definitely fainter than V=12.9. It was a threshold object.



#33 Astrojensen

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:59 PM

Seems like I missed it. Dang! Maybe it will brighten again, but I'm not putting my hopes up. Soon the Moon will interefere.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark



#34 nytecam

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 04:52 PM

Imaged CTA-102 tonight after dusk and from quick look at data the quasar appears to have faded a full magnitude in the last 48hrs - will post new pic tomorrow :)

 

Nytecam

 

thus....quasar faded to = stars circled blue.  48hrs earlier as bright as star purple :)

Attached Thumbnails

  • cta102q161203x1mg.jpg

Edited by nytecam, 04 December 2016 - 05:23 AM.

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#35 Aquarellia

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 06:13 PM

Hello 

 

I used the sketching section for my own observation, you can find sketch and info here:

http://www.cloudynig...blazar-cta-102/

Michel


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#36 BrooksObs

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 08:26 AM

Imaged CTA-102 tonight after dusk and from quick look at data the quasar appears to have faded a full magnitude in the last 48hrs - will post new pic tomorrow :)

 

Nytecam

 

thus....quasar faded to = stars circled blue.  48hrs earlier as bright as star purple :)

Indeed, CTA 102, observations of which are also being talked about over in the General Astronomy & Observing section of this forum, has shown unusual activity this past week. Previous to this the object's rise in brightness has been largely a matter of a slow and steady upward trend. However, beginning early in this past week CTA 102 underwent an abrupt flaring amounting to about a one magnitude raising its brightness. This took it from about magnitude 13.0v to a peak of 11.8 which followed immediately by an equally rapid decline back to 13.1 magnitude. The entire event lasted only 3-4 days. Last evening, December 3.9681UT, I managed a look and found CTA 102 apparently once more starting to gain in brightness, determining it as 12.7 magnitude which is 100% supported by CCD V observations obtained an hour or so earlier taken elsewhere.

 

It is difficult to imagine any process that can brighten an object more than half way across the known universe 3-fold in just the matter of a couple of days, and then have it subside just as quickly. Although cataclysmic variable stars can accomplish this feat their outbursts are virtually a point-source event. With CTA 102 we are talking about an event billions of times more energetic, yet likely restricted by physical limitations to some manner of source probably on the order of little more than solar system dimensions. The mind boggles!

 

BrooksObs


Edited by BrooksObs, 04 December 2016 - 08:28 AM.

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#37 Astrojensen

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 10:29 AM

It is probably a very active black hole with its jet aligned towards us. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark



#38 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 12:21 PM

I've been fighting a bad cold during the outburst and the weather does not look very favorable for the upcoming week.  Darn the luck!

 

Dave Mitsky



#39 Dean Norris

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 05:45 PM

I was fortunate to observe CT 102 last night from a blue zone. I had a chart from the AAVSO star plotter that I used to make a rough magnitude estimate. I estimated it to be the 12th mag. On the chart there was an 11.7 mag comparative star nearby. I made this observation with my 10" and a friend's 18."

 

A fascinating object that stretches the imagination when thinking of it's power and great distance.


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#40 Steve OK

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 08:05 AM

I observed CTA-102 last night from my white-zone backyard, with my 17.5" Dob.  I used the image that Leeasle posted above as a guide (thanks Leeasle!) and found it more easily than I expected.  It appeared to me to be just slightly brighter than a 12.95 mag star in the field.  Not quite direct vision for me, but my skies were pretty bright, and the seeing was poor.   Seeing it, and considering what it is, had quite an impact on me!

 

Steve


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#41 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 06:54 PM

I'm feeling better today.  I had hoped that the clear skies would last for a few more hours but that was not to be, as high clouds rolled in near sunset.  It looks like Wednesday night may be clear but the Moon will be gibbous by then.

 

Dave Mitsky


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#42 BrooksObs

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 02:17 PM

The currently reported status of CTA 102 puts it as hovering near magnitude +12.7 with minor fluctuations. Moonlight interference is increasing, but if it maintains this brightness it should remain within reach of modest amateur telescopes through full moon.

 

BrooksObs


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#43 Aquarellia

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 02:33 PM

The currently reported status of CTA 102 puts it as hovering near magnitude +12.7 with minor fluctuations. Moonlight interference is increasing, but if it maintains this brightness it should remain within reach of modest amateur telescopes through full moon.

 

BrooksObs

Exact, I just come from another observation of this blazar, (+12.8) made with à Dobson 12" and a 10mm Delos (150x).

Because of the moonlight I catch it sometime with direct vision sometime with averted.

Clear sky to you all.

Michel



#44 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 04:21 PM

Now, it looks like I'll have to wait until Thursday night.

 

Dave Mitsky



#45 Cames

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 06:38 PM

Well, it appears to be dimming a bit.

 

Tonight at 1815 hrs EST under a slight bit of haze and a first quarter Moon closeby - so less than ideal conditions - it was just a little less obvious than nearby star J223303.8+114547, v13.

 

Also, its brightness could be bracketed by these two stars: J223224.2+115356, v12.9 and J223234.1+115242, v13.4.   Therefore, tonight my estimate is magnitude 13.2  or just about one magnitude dimmer than I saw it on December 1st last Thursday six days ago.

 

It's been cloudy and storming here for a few days so I'm glad the skies cleared enough to get one more look at it. It's been quite a ride.

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By the way, it's a great night to catch Hadley's Rille. Illumination angle is very good tonight.


Edited by Cames, 07 December 2016 - 07:08 PM.

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#46 havasman

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 07:04 PM

Now, it looks like I'll have to wait until Thursday night.

 

Dave Mitsky

Very glad to hear you're feeling better!



#47 Aquarellia

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 10:52 PM

I agree with Cames, yesterday evening my personal visual observation was very close 13.1.  I was using the OAB telescope (25" f3.3) the moonlight was really an issue.  

I hope that tonight will be still good for our friend Dave Mitsky.

Michel


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#48 Augustus

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Posted 08 December 2016 - 11:07 AM

Is it visible in a 6" in suburban skies?



#49 Aquarellia

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Posted 08 December 2016 - 11:49 AM

Is it visible in a 6" in suburban skies?

Probably not, the main issue is the lack of contrast because of the moonlight.

But you can try, the magnitude is changing so,...

Michel


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#50 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 08 December 2016 - 07:32 PM

I hope that tonight will be still good for our friend Dave Mitsky.

Thanks.

 

Well, I went to the Naylor Observatory, where I am at this moment, early this evening with the hope of seeing CTA 102.  The forecast was a bit iffy but seemed to be fairly good for the early part of the night.  The sky was still mostly clear when I arrived.  The satellite images appeared to be promising.  I opened the French Dome and decided to wait for a bit in the administration building until it got darker.  By the time I was ready to go up to the dome, clouds had begun to roll in.  So far I've seen nothing but Venus and a cloud-obscured Moon.

 

Dave Mitsky


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