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Detection of ultra-high-energy gamma rays from the Crab Nebula: physical implications

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Aharonian,  Felix
Division Prof. Dr. James A. Hinton, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Khangulyan, D., Arakawa, M., & Aharonian, F. (2020). Detection of ultra-high-energy gamma rays from the Crab Nebula: physical implications. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 491(3), 3217-3224. doi:10.1093/mnras/stz3261.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-18CE-6
Abstract
The Crab Nebula is an extreme particle accelerator that boosts the energy of electrons up to a few PeV (10(15) eV), close to the maximum energy allowed theoretically. The physical conditions in the acceleration site and the nature of the acceleration process itself remain highly uncertain. The key information about the highest-energy accelerated particles is contained in the synchrotron and inverse Compton (IC) channels of radiation at energies above 1 MeV and 100 TeV, respectively. A recent report of the detection of an ultra-high-energy gamma-ray signal from the Crab Nebula up to 300 TeV allows us to determine the energy distribution of the highest-energy electrons and to derive the magnetic field strength in the acceleration region, B <= 120 mu G, in a parameter-freeway. This estimate brings new constraints on the properties of non-thermal particle distributions and places important constraints on the magnetohydrodynamic models for the Crab Nebula, in particular on the feasible magnetization and anisotropy of the pulsar wind. The calculations of synchrotron and IC emission show that future observations with instruments that allow detection of the Crab Nebula above 300 TeV and above 1 MeV will clarify the conditions that allow acceleration of electrons beyond PeV energies in the Crab Nebula. In particular, we will be able to verify the hypothetical multicomponent composition of the electron energy distribution, and we will determine the magnetic field strength in the regions responsible for the acceleration of PeV electrons.