A lower-limit flux for the extragalactic background light
Institut für Experimentalphysik, University of Hamburg, Luruper Chaussee 149, 22761 Hamburg, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Université Paris Sud 11 & CNRS (UMR 8617), Bât 121, 91405 Orsay, France
Accepted: 14 January 2010
Context. The extragalactic background light (EBL) contains information about the evolution of galaxies from very early times up to the present. The spectral energy distribution is not known accurately, especially in the near- and mid-infrared range. Upper limits and absolute measurements come from direct observations which might be be polluted by foreground emission, while indirect upper limits can also be set by observations of high energy gamma-ray sources. Galaxy number counts integrations of observable galaxies, missing possible faint sources, give strict lower limits.
Aims. A model is constructed, which reproduces the EBL lower limit flux. This model can be used for a guaranteed minimum correction of observed spectra of extragalactic gamma-ray sources for extragalactic absorption.
Methods. A forward evolution model for the metagalactic radiation field is used to fit recent observations of satelites like Spitzer, ISO, Hubble and GALEX. The model is applied to calculate the Fazio-Stecker relation, and to compute the absorption factor at different redshifts and corrected blazar spectra.
Results. A strict lower-limit flux for the evolving extragalactic background light (and in particular the cosmic infrared background) has been calculated up to a redshift of five. The computed flux is below the existing upper limits from direct observations, and agrees with all existing limits derived from very-high energy gamma-ray observations. The corrected spectra still agree with simple theoretical predictions. The derived strict lower-limit EBL flux is very close to the upper limits from gamma-ray observations. This is true for the present day EBL, but also for the diffuse flux at higher redshift.
Conclusions. If future detections of high redshift gamma-ray sources require a lower EBL flux than derived here, the physics assumptions used to derive the upper limits have to be revised. The lower-limit EBL model is not only needed for absorption features in active galactic nuclei and other gamma-ray sources, but is also essential when alternative particle processes are tested, which could prevent the high energy gamma-rays from being absorbed. It can also be used for a guaranteed interaction of cosmic-ray particles. The model is available online.
Key words: diffuse radiation / Galaxy: formation / infrared: galaxies
© ESO, 2010