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Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Sir Arnold Wolfendale

Erlykin, A. D. & Wolfendale, A. W. (2003). The visibility of shell-type supernova remnants in gamma rays. Journal of Physics G-Nuclear and Particle Physics 29(4): 641-664.

Author(s) from Durham


The question of the origin of the cosmic radiation (CR) is a continuing
one. The idea that the shocks from supernova remnants (SNR) expanding
into the interstellar medium (ISM) accelerate CR is still a popular one
but a number of authors have drawn attention to the fact that the
experimental evidence for the presence of gamma rays from the expected
interaction of CR with gas in the remnant is poor. Indeed, it is
claimed that many SNR are not 'seen' in GeV or TeV gamma rays, whereas
'they should have been'.
We have looked at this problem and we conclude that the idea of CR
production in SNR cannot be faulted in this way; if the evacuation of
ambient gas by the stellar wind of the progenitor star and, frequently,
by associated earlier close-by SN, is taken into account; such
phenomena are expected for the important type II SN which result from
very massive stars and which provide the SNR which are thought to
accelerate CR. Other SNR have, apparently, been seen and the
interaction of SNR-accelerated particles with adjacent molecular clouds
has been deemed responsible. However, we worry about this
interpretation because of the slow progress of the SNR shock through
such clouds, although electron-effects may, indeed, contribute.
This paper is devoted mainly to the visibility of nearby (within about
1 kpc) SNR in gamma rays although many of the arguments also relate to
remote SNR. For the nearby SNR another problem enters the scene: the
large angular spread of the remnant. It is especially important for the
old SNR, where cosmic rays have already diffused to a large distance
from the SNR centre. We have also examined the effect of the 'anomalous
diffusion' of CR propagation in the non-homogeneous interstellar medium
on the visibility of SNR for gamma rays of different energies.


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