TeV GAMMA RAYS: OBSERVATIONS VERSUS EXPECTATIONS & THEORY

Frank Krennrich

Abstract


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.

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague