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: Data from (non-) attenuation of gamma rays from active galactic nuclei (AGN) and gamma ray bursts (GRBs) give upper limits on the extragalactic background light (EBL) from the UV to the mid-IR that are only a little above the lower limits from observed galaxies. These upper limits now rule out some EBL models and purported observations, with improved data likely to provide even stronger constraints. We present EBL calculations both based on multiwavelength observations of thousands of galaxies and also based on semi-analytic models, and show that they are consistent with these lower limits from observed galaxies and with the gamma-ray upper limit constraints. Such comparisons "close the loop" on cosmological galaxy formation models, since they account for all the light, including that from galaxies too faint to see. We compare our results with those of other recent works, and discuss the implications of these new EBL calculations for gamma ray attenuation. Catching a few GRBs with groundbased atmospheric Cherenkov Telescope (ACT) arrays or water Cherenkov detectors could provide important new constraints on the high-redshift star formation history of the universe.

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May 16, 2014