Spotted: A Galactic PeVatron?

When PeV particles accelerated by a galactic PeVatron collide with gas and dust in the vicinity of their origin, they should produce very high-energy tera-electron-volt (TeV, or 10^12 eV) gamma-ray photons. These photon by-products won’t be deflected by magnetic fields, so their arrival at gamma-ray observatories on Earth provides a clearer path back to the source of the PeV cosmic rays.

A new study may have identified one cosmic accelerator in our galaxy: the remnant produced by a past supernova explosion just 2,600 light-years from Earth. In a new publication, a team of scientists from the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC) announces the detection of TeV gamma-ray emission from the same region as supernova remnant SNR G106.3+2.7.

Though the team can’t rule out other causes of the emission, this signal has a spectrum that’s consistent with what we’d expect to be produced by PeV protons colliding with gas and dust. The origin near SNR G106.3+2.7 supports a picture in which charged particles can be accelerated across the shocks of supernova remnants and flung into space with PeV energies.

Top: significance map from HAWC showing the location of gamma-ray emission from near SNR G106.3+2.7. Bottom: Molecular hydrogen column density around the HAWC-detected source (shown in gray contours). The detectors VERITAS and Milagro have also observed very high-energy gamma-ray emission from this region; their detection centers are also marked. [Adapted from Albert et al. 2020]

Source: “Spotted: A Galactic PeVatron?” AASNOVA, 17 June 2020. <https://aasnova.org/2020/06/17/spotted-a-galactic-pevatron/>

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