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On the origin of highest energy gamma-rays from Mkn 501

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Aharonian,  F. A.
Division Prof. Dr. Werner Hofmann, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Timokhin,  A. N.
Division Prof. Dr. Werner Hofmann, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Aharonian, F. A., Timokhin, A. N., & Plyasheshnikov, A. V. (2002). On the origin of highest energy gamma-rays from Mkn 501. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 384(3), 834-847.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-83B2-5
Abstract
The spectra of very high energy gamma-radiation from distant extragalactic objects suffer significant deformations during the passage of primary gamma-rays through the intergalactic medium. The recently reported fluxes of diffuse infrared background radiation indicate that we detect, most probably, heavily absorbed TeV radiation from Mkn 421 and Mkn 501. This implies that the absorption-corrected spectrum of Mkn 501 may contain a sharp pile-up which contradicts to the predictions of the conventional models of TeV blazars, and thus may lead to the so-called "IR background-TeV gamma-ray crisis". To overcome this difficulty, in this paper we propose two independent hypotheses assuming that (i) the TeV radiation from Mkn 501 has a secondary origin, i.e. it is formed during the development of electron-photon cascades in the intergalactic medium initiated by primary gamma-rays; (ii) the pile-up in the source spectrum is a result of comptonization (in deep Klein-Nishina regime) of ambient optical radiation by an ultrarelativistic conical cold outflow (jet) with bulk motion Lorentz factor Gamma(0) less than or equal to 3 x 10(7). Within the uncertainties caused by the limited energy resolution of spectral measurements, the observed TeV radiation of Mkn 501 formally can be explained by the intergalactic cascade gamma-rays, assuming however an extremely low intergalactic magnetic field in the direction to the source at the level of less than or equal to10(18) G. We also demonstrate that the "bulk motion comptonization" scenario can quite naturally reproduce the unusual spectral features in the absorption-corrected TeV spectrum of Mkn 501, and briefly discuss the astrophysical implications of this hypothesis.