Search for New Cosmic-Ray Acceleration Sites within the 4FGL Catalog Galactic Plane Sources

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Cosmic rays are mostly composed of protons accelerated to relativistic speeds. When those protons encounter interstellar material, they produce neutral pions, which in turn decay into gamma-rays. This offers a compelling way to identify the acceleration sites of protons. A characteristic hadronic spectrum, with a low-energy break around 200 MeV, was detected in the gamma-ray spectra of four supernova remnants (SNRs), IC 443, W44, W49B, and W51C, with the Fermi Large Area Telescope. This detection provided direct evidence that cosmic-ray protons are (re-)accelerated in SNRs. Here, we present a comprehensive search for low-energy spectral breaks among 311 4FGL catalog sources located within 5° from the Galactic plane. Using 8 yr of data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope between 50 MeV and 1 GeV, we find and present the spectral characteristics of 56 sources with a spectral break confirmed by a thorough study of systematic uncertainty. Our population of sources includes 13 SNRs for which the proton–proton interaction is enhanced by the dense target material; the high-mass gamma-ray binary LS I+61 303; the colliding wind binary η Carinae; and the Cygnus star-forming region. This analysis better constrains the origin of the gamma-ray emission and enlarges our view to potential new cosmic-ray acceleration sites.

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The Astrophysical Journal





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