The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.28). 11/2010; 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: The very high energy (VHE) gamma ray spectral index of high energy peaked blazars correlates strongly with its corresponding redshift whereas no such correlation is observed in the X-ray or the GeV bands. We attribute this correlation to a result of photon-photon absorption of TeV photons with the extragalactic background light (EBL) and utilizing this, we compute the allowed flux range for the EBL, which is independent of previous estimates. The observed VHE spectrum of the sources in our sample can be well approximated by a power-law, and if the de-absorbed spectrum is also assumed to be a power law, then we show that the spectral shape of EBL will be $\epsilon n(\epsilon) \sim k log(\frac{\epsilon}{\epsilon_p}) $. We estimate the range of values for the parameters defining the EBL spectrum, $k$ and $\epsilon_p$, such that the correlation of the intrinsic VHE spectrum with redshift is nullified. The estimated EBL depends only on the observed correlation and the assumption of a power law source spectrum. Specifically, it does not depend on the spectral modeling or radiative mechanism of the sources, nor does it depend on any theoretical shape of the EBL spectrum obtained through cosmological calculations. The estimated EBL spectrum is consistent with the upper and lower limits imposed by different observations. Moreover, it also agrees closely with the theoretical estimates obtained through cosmological evolution models.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2014; 795(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/795/1/91 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate potential γ – γ absorption of γ-ray emission from blazars arising from inhomogeneities along the line of sight, beyond the diffuse Extragalactic Background Light (EBL). As plausible sources of excess γ – γ opacity, we consider (1) foreground galaxies, including cases in which this configuration leads to strong gravitational lensing, (2) individual stars within these foreground galaxies, and (3) individual stars within our own galaxy, which may act as lenses for microlensing events. We found that intervening galaxies close to the line of sight are unlikely to lead to significant excess γ – γ absorption. This opens up the prospect of detecting lensed gamma-ray blazars at energies above 10 GeV with their gamma-ray spectra effectively only affected by the EBL. The most luminous stars located either in intervening galaxies or in our galaxy provide an environment in which these gamma-rays could, in principle, be significantly absorbed. However, despite a large microlensing probability due to stars located in intervening galaxies, γ-rays avoid absorption by being deflected by the gravitational potentials of such intervening stars to projected distances ("impact parameters") where the resulting γ – γ opacities are negligible. Thus, neither of the intervening excess photon fields considered here, provide a substantial source of excess γ – γ opacity beyond the EBL, even in the case of very close alignments between the background blazar and a foreground star or galaxy.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2014; 790(2):147. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/790/2/147 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For more than a decade now, the complete origin of the diffuse gamma-ray emission background (EGRB) has been unknown. Major components like unresolved star-forming galaxies (making <~ 50% of the EGRB) and blazars (lsim 23%), have failed to explain the entire background observed by Fermi. Another, though subdominant, contribution is expected to come from the process of large-scale structure formation. The growth of structures is accompanied by accretion and merger shocks, which would, with at least some magnetic field present, give rise to a population of structure-formation cosmic rays (SFCRs). Though expected, this cosmic-ray population is still hypothetical and only very weak limits have been placed to their contribution to the EGRB. The most promising insight into SFCRs was expected to come from Fermi-LAT observations of clusters of galaxies, however, only upper limits and no detection have been placed. Here, we build a model of gamma-ray emission from large-scale accretion shocks implementing a source evolution calibrated with the Fermi-LAT cluster observation limits. Though our limits to the SFCR gamma-ray emission are weak (above the observed EGRB) in some cases, in others, some of our models can provide a good fit to the observed EGRB. More importantly, we show that these large-scale shocks could still give an important contribution to the EGRB, especially at high energies. Future detections of cluster gamma-ray emission would help place tighter constraints on our models and give us a better insight into large-scale shocks forming around them.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2014; 782(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/782/2/109 · 6.28 Impact Factor

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