The sub-hour timescale variability commonly observed in blazars—widely known as intra-day
—has been extensively studied in optical photo-polarimetric bands over the past 25–30 years. In addition, there have been comprehensive theoretical discussions on the topic, with various models and scenarios proposed; however, the phenomenon still remains relatively poorly understood. Here we present the summary of our optical microvariability studies over the past few years based on multi-frequency photo-polarimetric Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT) observation campaigns. The primary objective of the study was to explore the characteristics of the source microvariability on timescales of a few minutes to a few days using exceptionally dense photo-polarimetric observations. The results show that the source often displays fast variability with an amplitude as large as 0.3 mag within a few hours, as well as color variability on similar time scales often characterized by “bluer-when-brighter” trend. Similarly, the correlation between variability in flux and polarization appears to depend upon the configuration of the optical polarization angle relative to the positional angle of the innermost radio core of the jet. Other fascinating observations include a sudden and temporary disappearance in the observed variability lasting for ∼6 h. In addition, the modeling of individual microflares
strongly suggests that the phenomenon of microvariability can be best explained by convolved emission from compact emission sites distributed stochastically in the turbulent jet. Besides, analysis of some of the well resolved micro-flares exhibiting high degrees of polarization points towards a complex magnetic geometry pervading the jet with the possible presence of small-scale regions of highly ordered and enhanced magnetic field similar to so-called “magnetic islands”.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited