54 research outputs found

    TeV GAMMA RAYS: OBSERVATIONS VERSUS EXPECTATIONS & THEORY

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    The scope of this paper is to discuss two important questions relevant for TeV γ-ray astronomy; the pursuit to reveal the origin of cosmic rays in our galaxy, and the opacity of the universe in γ-rays. The origin of cosmic rays stipulated the field of TeV astronomy in the first place, and led to the development of the atmospheric Cherenkov technique; significant progress has been made in the last decade through the detection of several supernova remnants, the primary suspects for harboring the acceleration sites of cosmic rays. TeV γ-rays propagate mostly unhindered through the galactic plane, making them excellent probes of processes in SNRs and other galactic sources. Key results related to the SNR origin of cosmic rays are discussed. TeV γ-ray spectra from extragalactic sources experience significant absorption when traversing cosmological distances. The opacity of the universe to γ-rays above 10 GeV progressively increases with energy and redshift; the reason lies in their pair production with ambient soft photons from the extragalactic background light (EBL). While this limits the γ-ray horizon, it offers the opportunity to gain information about cosmology, i.e. the EBL intensity, physical conditions in intergalactic space, and potentially new interaction processes. Results and implications pertaining to the EBL are given

    New Generation Atmospheric Cherenkov Detectors

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    High energy gamma-ray astronomy has been established during the last decade through the launch of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) and the success of its ground-based counterpart, the imaging atmospheric Cherenkov technique. In the aftermath of their important and surprising scientific results a worldwide effort developing and designing new generation atmospheric Cherenkov detectors is underway. These novel instruments will have higher sensitivity at E > 250 GeV, but most importantly, will be able to close the unexplored energy gap between 20 GeV and 250 GeV. Several ground-based detectors are proposed or under construction. Aspects of the techniques used and sensitivity are discussed in this overview paper. The instruments cover largely complementary energy ranges and together are expected to explore the gamma-ray sky between 20 GeV and 100 TeV with unprecedented sensitivity.Comment: 13 pages, 4 Figures, Invited talk at the VERITAS Workshop on TeV Astrophysics of Extragalactic Sources, eds. M. Catanese and T. Weekes, to be published in Astroparticle Physic

    The Near Infrared Background: Interplanetary Dust or Primordial Stars?

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    The intensity of the diffuse ~ 1 - 4 micron sky emission from which solar system and Galactic foregrounds have been subtracted is in excess of that expected from energy released by galaxies and stars that formed during the z < 5 redshift interval (Arendt & Dwek 2003, Matsumoto et al. 2005). The spectral signature of this excess near-infrared background light (NIRBL) component is almost identical to that of reflected sunlight from the interplanetary dust cloud, and could therefore be the result of the incomplete subtraction of this foreground emission component from the diffuse sky maps. Alternatively, this emission component could be extragalactic. Its spectral signature is consistent with that of redshifted continuum and recombination line emission from HII regions formed by the first generation of very massive stars. In this paper we analyze the implications of this spectral component for the formation rate of these Population III stars, the redshift interval during which they formed, the reionization of the universe and evolution of collapsed halo masses. We find that to reproduce the intensity and spectral shape of the NIRBL requires a peak star formation rate that is higher by about a factor of 4 to 10 compared to those derived from hierarchical models. Furthermore, an extragalactic origin for the NIRBL leads to physically unrealistic absorption-corrected spectra of distant TeV blazars. All these results suggest that Pop III stars contribute only a fraction of the NIRBL intensity with zodiacal light, star forming galaxies, and/or non-nuclear sources giving rise to the remaining fraction.Comment: 28 pages including 7 embedded figures. Submitted to Ap
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