Embedded star clusters as sources of high-energy cosmic rays
Modelling and constraints
1 Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique des Particules, Université Savoie Mont-Blanc, CNRS/IN2P3, 74941 Annecy-le-Vieux, France
2 Laboratoire Univers et Particules de Montpellier, Université Montpellier 2, CNRS/IN2P3, CC 72, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
3 School of Physics, University of the Witwatersrand, 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein, 2050 Johannesburg, South Africa
Received: 9 March 2016
Accepted: 4 May 2016
Context. Massive stars are mainly found in stellar associations. These massive star clusters occur in the heart of giant molecular clouds. The strong stellar wind activity in these objects generates large bubbles and induces collective effects that could accelerate particles up to high energy and produce γ-rays. The best way to input an acceleration origin to the stellar wind interaction in massive stellar cluster is to observe young massive star clusters in which no supernova explosion has occurred yet.
Aims. This work aims to constrain the part of stellar wind mechanical energy that is converted into energetic particles using the sensitivity of the ongoing Fermi-LAT instrument. This work further provides detailed predictions of expected γ-ray fluxes in the view of the on-set of the next generation of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes.
Methods. A one-zone model where energetic particles are accelerated by repeated interactions with strong supersonic shocks occurring in massive star clusters was developed. The particle escape from the star cluster and subsequent interaction with the surrounding dense material and magnetic fields of the HII region was computed. We applied this model to a selection of eight embedded star clusters constricted by existing observations. We evaluated the γ-ray signal from each object, combining both leptonic and hadronic contributions. We searched for these emissions in the Fermi-LAT observations in the energy range from 3 to 300 GeV and compared them to the sensitivity of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA).
Results. No significant γ-ray emission from these star clusters has been found. Less than 10% of stellar wind luminosities are supplied to the relativistic particles. Some clusters even show acceleration efficiency of less than 1%. The CTA would be able to detect γ-ray emission from several clusters in the case of an acceleration efficiency of close to one percent.
Key words: acceleration of particles / astroparticle physics / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal / stars: massive / gamma rays: general / HII regions
© ESO, 2016