Although Galactic cosmic rays (protons and nuclei) are widely believed to be mainly accelerated by the winds and supernovae of massive stars, definitive evidence of this origin remains elusive nearly a century after their discovery. The active regions of starburst galaxies have exceptionally high rates of star formation, and their large size-more than 50 times the diameter of similar Galactic regions-uniquely enables reliable calorimetric measurements of their potentially high cosmic-ray density. The cosmic rays produced in the formation, life and death of massive stars in these regions are expected to produce diffuse γ-ray emission through interactions with interstellar gas and radiation. M82, the prototype small starburst galaxy, is predicted to be the brightest starburst galaxy in terms of γ-ray emission. Here we report the detection of >700-GeV γ-rays from M82. From these data we determine a cosmic-ray density of 250eVcm-3 in the starburst core, which is about 500 times the average Galactic density. This links cosmic-ray acceleration to star formation activity, and suggests that supernovae and massive-star winds are the dominant accelerators.

A connection between star formation activity and cosmic rays in the starburst galaxy M82

Cesarini, Andrea;
2009

Abstract

Although Galactic cosmic rays (protons and nuclei) are widely believed to be mainly accelerated by the winds and supernovae of massive stars, definitive evidence of this origin remains elusive nearly a century after their discovery. The active regions of starburst galaxies have exceptionally high rates of star formation, and their large size-more than 50 times the diameter of similar Galactic regions-uniquely enables reliable calorimetric measurements of their potentially high cosmic-ray density. The cosmic rays produced in the formation, life and death of massive stars in these regions are expected to produce diffuse γ-ray emission through interactions with interstellar gas and radiation. M82, the prototype small starburst galaxy, is predicted to be the brightest starburst galaxy in terms of γ-ray emission. Here we report the detection of >700-GeV γ-rays from M82. From these data we determine a cosmic-ray density of 250eVcm-3 in the starburst core, which is about 500 times the average Galactic density. This links cosmic-ray acceleration to star formation activity, and suggests that supernovae and massive-star winds are the dominant accelerators.
7274
Cesarini, Andrea; Veritas, Collaboration
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11572/67588
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 207
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 170
social impact