|Frankfurt Quasar Monitoring|
|Cross-Identifications|| 4C-05.55, PKS 1253-055, CTA 56, ON-089, 1253-055
LHE 334, MSH 12-020, NRAO 413, IRAS F12535-0530
RX J1256.1-0547, 1ES 1253-055, VSOP J1256-0547
WMAP J1256-0547, GeV J1256-0546, LEDA 2817645
2EG J1256-0546, HE 1253-0531, QSO B1253-055
2MASSi J1256111-054721, SWIFT J1256.1-0547
GALEXASC J125611.21-054721.2, 2E 2900
|Equat. coordinates||RA 12 56 11.1 DE -05 47 21 (J2000)|
| Distance (2) (3)
|Total mag range (mv) (4)||11.3 - 18.0|
|Catalog Magnitude (1)||17.75|
|Absolute Magnitude (1)||-24.6 MB|
|Light Travel-Time (2)||5.136 × 109 yrs|
279 is a high
polarization quasar (HPQ) and one of the most violent variable sources
in the sky. It
strong and violent variable from radio to gamma-rays.
OVV is very active with a total range of about 7 magnitudes (!) in the
optical events show fast, spike-like flares with sharply raising
and falling fluxes.
279 was the first quasar detected at energies of >1 GeV with
EGRET/CGRO. As a bright gamma
source it was, of course, also detected by
resolution imagery of 3C 279 showed a core-jet structure with a jet
extending out to 10" to the SE.
All this activity is produced by a supermassive black hole of about 1×109
The designation 3C 279 refers to the 3rd Cambridge Radio Survey (3C), where this object was discovered as a radio source in 1959. Its optical counterpart was identified with a faint v=17.75 "blue, starlike object", which was immediately classified as a quasar by spectroscopy (with some similarities of BL Lac-like objects).
For both visual and CCD observers, 3C 279 is an interesting target at any time. During the short outbursts, visual observers with telescopes of 8- to 10-inch of aperture may have no difficulties to track down this quasar. Visually, 3C 279 remains a stellar object even with large aperture telescopes. In the past 20 years, the Frankfurt Quasar Monitoring program has recorded optical outbursts reaching maxima between mag 12.9 and mag 14.7.
CCD observers, as well as visual observers, may use the comparison stars given above. Other photometric sequences were published by Doroshenko et al. (2005), Gonzŕlez-Pérez et al. (2001) and the BAAVSS.
Visual observers may also like to visit close double star Struve 690 (STF) = ADS 8707, only 1° to the north of 3C 279. It consists of a 7.2-mag primary and an 8.9-mag secondary, separated by 5.7 arcsec. For deep sky observers the near vicinity of 3C 279 offers two bright and large galaxies, both members of the Virgo galaxy cluster: NGC 4697 is a 10.1-mag elliptical, 1.9° W of 3C 279. NGC 4731, only 1.4° to the SW, is a distorted barred spiral due to gravitational interaction with elliptical NGC 4697.
You like another deep sky showpiece? Sweep your telescope some 7° to the SW and you will meet M104, the famous "Sombrero Galaxy".
Stargazers who prefer to observe more very old quasi-stellar photons are advised to turn their scopes to the most famous quasar of all: quasar "superstar" 3C 273, located some 10° NW of 3C 279. 3C 273 is an exceptionally bright 13-mag object at a distance of nearly 2×109 light-years. Another variable 15-mag quasar, PKS 1302-102, can be found about 5.3° SE.
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Hamburg Quasar Monitoring
AAVSO observing campaign