Gravitational light-bending prevents γγ absorption in gravitational lenses
1 Centre for Space Research, North-West University, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa
2 Astrophysical Institute, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA
Received: 10 February 2016
Accepted: 2 September 2016
The magnification effect that is due to gravitational lensing enhances the chances of detecting moderate-redshift (z ~ 1) sources in very high-energy (VHE; E > 100 GeV) γ-rays by ground-based atmospheric Cherenkov telescope facilities. It has been shown in previous work that this prospect is not hampered by potential γ−γ absorption effects by the intervening (lensing) galaxy, nor by any individual star within the intervening galaxy. In this paper, we expand this study to simulate the light-bending effect of a realistic ensemble of stars. We first demonstrate that for realistic parameters of the galaxy’s star field, it is extremely unlikely (probability ≲10-6) that the direct line of sight between the γ-ray source and the observer passes by any star in the field close enough to be subject to significant γγ absorption. Our simulations then focus on the rare cases where γγ absorption by (at least) one individual star might be non-negligible. We show that gravitational light-bending will have the effect of avoiding the γ−γ absorption spheres around massive stars in the intervening galaxy. This confirms previous results and re-inforces arguments in favour of VHE γ-ray observations of lensed moderate-redshift blazars to extend the redshift range of objects detected in VHE γ-rays, and to probe the location of the γ-ray emission region in these blazars.
Key words: gravitational lensing: strong / gravitational lensing: micro / galaxies: active / quasars: general / gamma rays: galaxies
© ESO, 2016