Neutral Pion Emission from Accelerated Protons in the Supernova Remnant W44

The Astrophysical Journal Letters (Impact Factor: 5.6). 11/2011; 742(2):L30. DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/742/2/L30
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We present the AGILE gamma-ray observations in the energy range 50 MeV-10 GeV of the supernova remnant (SNR) W44, one of the most interesting systems for studying cosmic-ray production. W44 is an intermediate-age SNR (~20, 000 years) and its ejecta expand in a dense medium as shown by a prominent radio shell, nearby molecular clouds, and bright [S II] emitting regions. We extend our gamma-ray analysis to energies substantially lower than previous measurements which could not conclusively establish the nature of the radiation. We find that gamma-ray emission matches remarkably well both the position and shape of the inner SNR shocked plasma. Furthermore, the gamma-ray spectrum shows a prominent peak near 1 GeV with a clear decrement at energies below a few hundreds of MeV as expected from neutral pion decay. Here we demonstrate that (1) hadron-dominated models are consistent with all W44 multiwavelength constraints derived from radio, optical, X-ray, and gamma-ray observations; (2) ad hoc lepton-dominated models fail to explain simultaneously the well-constrained gamma-ray and radio spectra, and require a circumstellar density much larger than the value derived from observations; and (3) the hadron energy spectrum is well described by a power law (with index s = 3.0 ± 0.1) and a low-energy cut-off at Ec = 6 ± 1 GeV. Direct evidence for pion emission is then established in an SNR for the first time.

Download full-text


Available from: Piergiorgio Picozza, Jul 07, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recently, the gamma-ray telescopes AGILE and Fermi observed several middle-aged supernova remnants (SNRs) interacting with molecular clouds. A plausible emission mechanism of the gamma rays is the decay of neutral pions produced by cosmic ray (CR) nuclei (hadronic processes). However, observations do not rule out contributions from bremsstrahlung emission due to CR electrons. TeV gamma-ray telescopes also observed many SNRs and discovered many unidentified sources. It is still unclear whether the TeV gamma-ray emission is produced via leptonic processes or hadronic processes. In this Letter, we propose that annihilation emission of secondary positrons produced by CR nuclei is a diagnostic tool of the hadronic processes. We investigate MeV emissions from secondary positrons and electrons produced by CR protons in molecular clouds. The annihilation emission of the secondary positrons from SNRs can be robustly estimated from the observed gamma-ray flux. The expected flux of the annihilation line from SNRs observed by AGILE and Fermi is sufficient for the future Advanced Compton Telescope to detect. Moreover, synchrotron emission from secondary positrons and electrons and bremsstrahlung emission from CR protons can be also observed by the future X-ray telescope NuSTAR and ASTRO-H.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 03/2011; 421(1). DOI:10.1111/j.1745-3933.2011.01215.x · 5.23 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent observations reveal that spectral breaks at ~GeV are commonly present in Galactic gamma-ray supernova remnants (SNRs) interacting with molecular clouds and that most of them have a spectral ($E^2dF/dE$) "platform" extended from the break to lower energies. In paper I (Li & Chen 2010), we developed an accumulative diffusion model by considering an accumulation of the diffusive protons escaping from the shock front throughout the history of the SNR expansion. In this paper, we improve the model by incorporating finite-volume of MCs, demonstrate the model dependence on particle diffusion parameters and cloud size, and apply it to nine interacting SNRs (W28, W41, W44, W49B, W51C, Cygnus Loop, IC443, CTB 37A, and G349.7+0.2). This refined model naturally explains the GeV spectral breaks and, especially, the "platform"s, together with available TeV data. We find that the index of the diffusion coeffcient \delta\ is in the range of 0.5-0.7, similar to the galactic averaged value, and the diffusion coefficient for cosmic rays around the SNRs is essentially two orders of magnitude lower than the Galactic average, which is a good indication for the suppression of cosmic ray diffusion near SNRs.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 08/2011; 421(2). DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.20270.x · 5.23 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The W51 complex hosts the supernova remnant W51C which is known to interact with the molecular clouds in the star forming region W51B. In addition, a possible pulsar wind nebula CXO J192318.5+140305 was found likely associated with the supernova remnant. Gamma-ray emission from this region was discovered by Fermi/LAT (between 0.2 and 50 GeV) and H.E.S.S. (>1 TeV). The spatial distribution of the events could not be used to pinpoint the location of the emission among the pulsar wind nebula, the supernova remnant shell and/or the molecular cloud. However, the modeling of the spectral energy distribution presented by the Fermi/LAT collaboration suggests a hadronic emission mechanism. We performed observations of the W51 complex with the MAGIC telescopes for more than 50 hours. The good angular resolution in the medium (few hundred GeV) to high (above 1 TeV) energies allow us to perform morphological studies. We detect an extended emission of very-high-energy gamma rays, with a significance of 11 standard deviations. We extend the spectrum from the highest Fermi/LAT energies to \sim 5 TeV and find that it follows a single power law with an index of 2.58 \pm 0.07stat \pm 0.22syst . The main part of the emission coincides with the shocked cloud region, while we find a feature extending towards the pulsar wind nebula. The possible contribution of the pulsar wind nebula, assuming a point-like source, shows no dependence on energy and it is about 20% of the overall emission. The broad band spectral energy distribution can be explained with a hadronic model that implies proton acceleration above 100 TeV. This result, together with the morphology of the source, tentatively suggests that we observe ongoing acceleration of ions in the interaction zone between supernova remnant and cloud. These results shed light on the long-standing problem of the origin of galactic cosmic rays.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 01/2012; 541. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201218846 · 4.48 Impact Factor