Volume 554, June 2013
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Published online||30 May 2013|
Measuring the correlation length of intergalactic magnetic fields from observations of gamma-ray induced cascades
1 ISDC Data Centre for Astrophysics, Department of AstronomyUniversity of Geneva, Ch. d’Ecogia 16, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
2 Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 31 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, Ireland
Received: 14 February 2013
Accepted: 25 April 2013
Context. The imaging and timing properties of γ-ray emission from electromagnetic cascades initiated by very-high-energy (VHE) γ-rays in the intergalactic medium depend on the strength B and correlation length λB of intergalactic magnetic fields (IGMF).
Aims. We study the possibility of measuring both B and λB via observations of the cascade emission with γ-ray telescopes.
Methods. For each measurement method, we find two characteristics of the cascade signal, which are sensitive to the IGMF B and λB values in different combinations. For the case of IGMF measurement using the observation of extended emission around extragalactic VHE γ-ray sources, the two characteristics are the slope of the surface brightness profile and the overall size of the cascade source. For the case of IGMF measurement from the time delayed emission, these two characteristics are the initial slope of the cascade emission light curve and the overall duration of the cascade signal.
Results. We show that measurement of the slope of the cascade induced extended emission and/or light curve can both potentially provide measure of the IGMF correlation length, provided it lies within the range 10 kpc ≲ λB ≲ 1 Mpc. For correlation lengths outside this range, gamma-ray observations can provide an upper or lower bound on λB. The latter of the two methods holds great promise in the near future for providing a measurement/constraint using measurements from present/next-generation γ-ray-telescopes.
Conclusions. Measurement of the IGMF correlation length will provide an important constraint on its origin. In particular, it will enable to distinguish between an IGMF of galactic wind origin from an IGMF of cosmological origin.
Key words: gamma rays: galaxies / BL Lacertae objects: general
© ESO, 2013
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