EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 383, Number 3, March I 2002
Page(s) 987 - 998
Section Diffuse matter in space
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20011768

A&A 383, 987-998 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20011768

Photon yields of energetic particles in the interstellar medium: An easy way to calculate gamma-ray line emission

E. Parizot1 and R. Lehoucq2

1  Institut de Physique Nucléaire d'Orsay, IN2P3-CNRS/Université Paris-Sud, 91406 Orsay Cedex, France
2  DAPNIA/Service d'astrophysique, CEA-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
    e-mail: roller@discovery.saclay.cea.fr

(Received 9 July 2001 / Accepted 11 December 2001 )

A $\gamma$-ray line production calculation in astrophysics depends on i) the composition and energy source spectrum of the energetic particles, ii) the propagation model, and iii) the nuclear cross sections. The main difficulty for model predictions and data interpretation comes from the fact that the spectrum of the particles which actually interact in the ISM - the propagated spectrum, is not the same as the source spectrum coming out of the acceleration site, due to energy-dependent energy losses and nuclear destruction. We present a different approach to calculate $\gamma$-ray line emission, based on the computation of the total number of photons produced by individual energetic nuclei injected in the interstellar medium at a given energy. These photon yields take into account all the propagation effects once and for all, and allow one to calculate quickly the $\gamma$-ray line emission induced by energetic particles in any astrophysical situation by using directly their source spectrum. Indeed, the same photon yields can be used for any source spectrum and composition, as well as any target composition. In addition, these photon yields provide visual, intuitive tools for $\gamma$-ray line phenomenology.

Key words: cosmic rays -- gamma rays: theory -- nuclear reactions

Offprint request: E. Parizot, parizot@ipno.in2p3.fr

© ESO 2002