Refining the prediction for OJ 287 next impact flare arrival epoch

Mauri J. Valtonen, Staszek Zola, A. Gopakumar, Callum McCall, Helen Jermak, Lankeswar Dey, S. Komossa, Tapio Pursimo, Emil Knudstrup, Dirk Grupe, Jose L. Gomez, Rene Hudec, Martin Jelinek, Jan Strobl, Andrei V. Berdyugin, Stefano Ciprini, Daniel E. Reichart, Vladimir V. Kouprianov, Katsura Matsumoto, Marek Drozdz, Markus Mugrauer, Alberto Sadun, Michal Zejmo, Aimo Sillanpaa, Harry J. Lehto, Kari Nilsson

Submitted on 17 September 2022


The bright blazar OJ~287 routinely parades high brightness bremsstrahlung flares which are explained as being a result of a secondary supermassive black hole (SMBH) impacting the accretion disk of a primary SMBH in a binary system. We begin by showing that these flares occur at times predicted by a simple analytical formula, based on the Kepler equation, which explains flares since 1888. The next impact flare, namely the flare number 26, is rather peculiar as it breaks the typical pattern of two impact flares per 12 year cycle. This will be the third bremsstrahlung flare of the current cycle that follows the already observed 2015 and 2019 impact flares from OJ~287. Unfortunately, astrophysical considerations make it difficult to predict the exact arrival epoch of the flare number 26. In the second part of the paper, we describe our recent OJ~287 observations. They show that the pre-flare light curve of flare number 22, observed in 2005, exhibits similar activity as the pre-flare light curve in 2022, preceding the expected flare number 26 in our model. We argue that the pre-flare activity most likely arises in the primary jet whose activity is modulated by the transit of the secondary SMBH through the accretion disk of the primary. Observing the next impact flare of OJ~287 in October 2022 will substantiate the theory of disk impacts in binary black hole systems.


Comment: 16 pages, 2 figures

Subject: Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena