Spectra of accelerated particles at supernova shocks in the presence of neutral hydrogen: the case of Tycho
Gran Sasso Science Institute (INFN),
viale F. Crispi 7, 67100 L’,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
2 INAF/Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi, 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
Received: 16 November 2015
Accepted: 28 February 2016
Context. The presence of neutral hydrogen in the shock proximity changes the structure of the shock and affects the spectra of particles accelerated through the first-order Fermi mechanism. This phenomenon has profound implications for the interpretation of the multifrequency spectra of radiation from supernova remnants.
Aims. Neutrals that undergo charge exchange with hot ions downstream of the shock may result in fast neutrals moving towards the upstream gas, where they can suffer additional charge exchange or ionisation reactions, thereby depositing energy and momentum upstream. Here we discuss the implications of this neutral return flux, which was already predicted in our previous work on neutral mediated supernova shocks, and show how the spectra of accelerated particles turn out to be appreciably steeper than p-4, thereby affecting the gamma ray spectra from supernova remnants in general and from Tycho specifically.
Methods. The theory that describes non-linear diffusive shock acceleration in the presence of neutral hydrogen has been developed in recent years. Here we use a semi-analytical theory developed in previous work and specialise our predictions to the case of the Tycho supernova shock, where there is evidence from gamma ray observations that the spectrum of the parent cosmic rays is steeper than expected from the traditional theory of diffusive shock acceleration.
Results. We show that, if the fraction of neutral hydrogen in the vicinity of the Tycho supernova shock is, as suggested by observations, ~70−90%, then spectra of accelerated protons steeper than p-4 may be a natural consequence of charge exchange reactions and the associated neutral return flux. The spectral shape is affected by this phenomenon for particles with energies below ~100−1000 GeV, for which the diffusion length is less than or at most comparable to the path length of charge exchange and ionisation upstream of the shock.
Key words: cosmic rays / ISM: supernova remnants / acceleration of particles
© ESO, 2016