An Optical Overview of Blazars with LAMOST. I. Hunting Changing-look Blazars and New Redshift Estimates

Harold A. Peña-Herazo, Francesco Massaro, Minfeng Gu, Alessandro Paggi, Marco Landoni, Raffaele D'Abrusco, Federica Ricci, Nicola Masetti, Vahram Chavushyan

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The extragalactic γ-rays sky observed by the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) is dominated by blazars. In the fourth release of the Fermi LAT Point Source Catalog (4FGL) are sources showing a multifrequency behavior similar to that of blazars but lacking an optical spectroscopic confirmation of their nature, known as blazar candidates of uncertain type (BCUs). We aim at confirming the blazar nature of BCUs and test if new optical spectroscopic observations can reveal spectral features, allowing us to get a redshift estimate for known BL Lac objects. We also aim to search for and discover changing-look blazars (i.e., blazars that show a different classification at different epochs). We carry out an extensive search for optical spectra available in the Large Sky Area Multi-object Fibre Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) Data Release 5 (DR5) archive. We select sources out of the 4FGL catalog, the list of targets from our follow-up spectroscopic campaign of unidentified or unassociated γ-ray sources, and the multifrequency catalog of blazars: the Roma-BZCAT. We select a total of 392 spectra. We also compare some of the LAMOST spectra with those available in the literature. We classify 20 BCUs confirming their blazar-like nature. Then we obtain 15 new redshift estimates for known blazars. We discover 26 transitional (i.e., changing-look) blazars that changed their classification. Finally, we are able to confirm the blazar-like nature of six BL Lac candidates. All remaining sources analyzed agree with previous classifications. BL Lac objects are certainly the most elusive type of blazars in the γ-ray extragalactic sky.

Original languageEnglish
Article number196
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • machine-readable table

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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