The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.73). 01/2010; 723:1082-1096. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/723/2/1082

ABSTRACT The extragalactic background light (EBL) includes photons with wavelengths from ultraviolet to infrared, which are effective at attenuating gamma rays with energy above ~10 GeV during propagation from sources at cosmological distances. This results in a redshift- and energy-dependent attenuation of the γ-ray flux of extragalactic sources such as blazars and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). The Large Area Telescope on board Fermi detects a sample of γ-ray blazars with redshift up to z ~ 3, and GRBs with redshift up to z ~ 4.3. Using photons above 10 GeV collected by Fermi over more than one year of observations for these sources, we investigate the effect of γ-ray flux attenuation by the EBL. We place upper limits on the γ-ray opacity of the universe at various energies and redshifts and compare this with predictions from well-known EBL models. We find that an EBL intensity in the optical-ultraviolet wavelengths as great as predicted by the "baseline" model of Stecker et al. can be ruled out with high confidence.

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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we report on the two-year-long Fermi-LAT observation of the peculiar blazar 4C +21.35 (PKS 1222+216). This source was in a quiescent state from the start of science operations of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in 2008 August until 2009 September, and then became more active, with gradually increasing flux and some moderately-bright flares. In 2010 April and June, 4C +21.35 underwent a very strong GeV outburst composed of several major flares characterized by rise and decay timescales of the order of a day. During the outburst, the GeV spectra of 4C +21.35 displayed a broken power-law form with spectral breaks observed near 1-3 GeV photon energies. We demonstrate that, at least during the major flares, the jet in 4C +21.35 carried a total kinetic luminosity comparable to the total accretion power available to feed the outflow. We also discuss the origin of the break observed in the flaring spectra of 4C +21.35. We show that, in principle, a model involving annihilation of the GeV photons on the He II Lyman recombination continuum and line emission of "broad line region" clouds may account for such. However, we also discuss the additional constraint provided by the detection of 4C +21.35 at 0.07-0.4 TeV energies by the MAGIC telescope, which coincided with one of the GeV flares of the source. We argue that there are reasons to believe that the $lesssim$,TeV emission of 4C +21.35 (as well as the GeV emission of the source, if co-spatial), is not likely to be produced inside the broad line region zone of highest ionization ($sim 10^{17}$,cm from the nucleus), but instead originates further away from the active center, namely around the characteristic scale of the hot dusty torus surrounding the 4C +21.35 nucleus ($sim 10^{19}$,cm).
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2011; 733(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A fraction of gamma-ray bursts exhibit distinct spectral features in their prompt emission below few 10s of keV that exceed simple extrapolations of the low-energy power-law portion of the Band spectral model. This is also true for the prompt optical emission observed in several bursts. Through Monte Carlo simulations, we model such low-energy spectral excess components as hadronic cascade emission initiated by photomeson interactions of ultra-high-energy protons accelerated within GRB outflows. Synchrotron radiation from the cascading, secondary electron-positron pairs can naturally reproduce the observed soft spectra in the X-ray band, and in some cases the optical spectra as well. These components can be directly related to the higher energy radiation at GeV energies due to the hadronic cascades. Depending on the spectral shape, the total energy in protons is required to be comparable to or appreciably larger than the observed total photon energy. In particular, we apply our model to the excess X-ray and GeV emission of GRB 090902B, and the bright optical emission of the "naked-eye" GRB 080319B. Besides the hard GeV components detected by {\it Fermi}, such X-ray or optical spectral excesses are further potential signatures of ultra-high-energy cosmic ray production in gamma-ray bursts. Comment: 12 pages, 2 figures
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 09/2010; · 6.35 Impact Factor

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