Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

H. Richard Miller - Chair

Second Advisor

William G. Bagnuolo, Jr.

Third Advisor

Steve T. Manson

Fourth Advisor

Paul J. Wiita

Fifth Advisor

D. Michael Crenshaw


Blazars exhibit the most extreme variability of the class of objects known asactive galactic nuclei (AGN). They are characterized by a featureless continuum, high polarization, and variability at all wavelengths and timescales. The amplitude of optical variations can range from less than 0.1 magnitude on the timescale of minutes to hours, to greater than 5.0 magnitudes on timescales of months to years, and gamma-ray variability amplitudes can span a range of as much as three orders of magnitude in a time-scale as short as a few days. These characteristics are consistent with a supermassive black hole accreting matter at the heart of the host galaxy. However, the observed properties of these objects don't necessarily reflect the intrinsic properties because the emissions have been modified by cosmological distances. The variability of these blazars, which have very different redshifts, have been investigated using several different analytical approaches; i.e. structure function analysis, variability index analysis, and light curve analysis. By transforming observed measurements into the rest frame of the source, the intrinsic properties of the variability can be compared. These variability characteristics of blazars, as seen in their rest frame, and as a function of state, will be discussed in reference to their general characteristics and classification schemes.