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bl lac object

n. (context astronomy English) a type of active galaxy with an active galactic nucleus (AGN), named after its prototype, BL Lacertae

BL Lac object

A BL Lacertae object or BL Lac object is a type of active galaxy with an active galactic nucleus (AGN) and is named after its prototype, BL Lacertae. In contrast to other types of active galactic nuclei, BL Lacs are characterized by rapid and large-amplitude flux variability and significant optical polarization. Because of these properties, the prototype of the class ( BL Lac) was originally thought to be a variable star. When compared to the more luminous active nuclei ( quasars) with strong emission lines, BL Lac objects have spectra dominated by a featureless non-thermal continuum.

In the unified scheme of radio-loud active galactic nuclei, the observed nuclear phenomenology of BL Lacs is interpreted as being due to the effects of the relativistic jet that is closely aligned to the line of sight of the observer. BL Lacs are thought to be intrinsically identical to low-power radio galaxies. These active nuclei are hosted in massive spheroidal galaxies. From the point of AGN classification, BL Lacs are a blazar subtype. All known BL Lacs are associated with core dominated radio sources, many of them exhibiting superluminal motion.

Some examples of BL Lac objects are BL Lacertae itself, OJ 287, AP Librae, PKS 2155-304, PKS 0521-365, Markarian 421, 3C 371, W Com, ON 325 and Markarian 501.