The 2005 November outburst in OJ 287 and the binary black hole model


We report observations of the largest optical outburst in 20 years in the quasar OJ 287. In some ways it was expected, due to the well-known quasi-periodic 12 yr outburst cycle of OJ 287. In other ways the timing of the outburst was surprising, since calculations based on the periodicity were predicting such an outburst in late 2006. Here we point out that, in the precessing binary black hole model, first proposed by Sillanpaa et al., and later refined by Lehto & Valtonen and Sundelius et al., the precession shifts the first outburst of each outburst season progressively to earlier times relative to the mean period. Thus, in this model, the timing of the outburst is quite acceptable, even if it was not predicted. The next test of the model comes in 2007 September when the second brightness peak is due. It may then be possible to detect the shortening of the binary period due to emission of gravitational waves from the system.

BL Lacertae objects : individual (OJ 287), galaxies : active, gravitation, relativity, OJ 287, EVOLUTION, NUCLEI, STARS, FIELD, DISK, JET, Astronomy & Astrophysics
Valtonen, M. et al. (2006): The 2005 November Outburst in OJ 287 and the Binary Black Hole Model. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 643(1). DOI: