Diffuse gamma rays from local group galaxies

Vasiliki Pavlidou, Brian D. Fields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffuse γ-ray radiation in galaxies is produced by cosmic-ray interactions with the interstellar medium. With the completion of EGRET observations, the only extragalactic object from which there has been a positive detection of diffuse γ-ray emission is the Large Magellanic Cloud. We systematically estimate the expected diffuse γ-ray flux from Local Group galaxies and determine their detectability by a new generation of γ-ray observatories such as the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST). For each galaxy, the expected γ-ray flux depends only on its total gas content and its cosmic-ray flux. We present a method for calculating cosmic-ray flux in these galaxies in terms of the observed rate of supernova explosions, in which cosmic-ray acceleration is believed to take place. The difficulty in deriving accurate supernova rates from observational data is a dominant uncertainty in our calculations. We estimate the γ-ray flux for Local Group galaxies and find that our predictions are consistent with the observations for the LMC and with the observational upper limits for the SMC and M31. Both the Andromeda galaxy, with a flux of ∼1.0 × 10-8 photons s-1 cm-2 above 100 MeV, and the SMC, with a flux of ∼1.7 × 10-8 photons s-1 cm-2 above 100 MeV, are expected to be observable by GLAST. M33 is at the limit of detectability with a flux of ∼0.11 × 10-8 s-1 cm-2. Other Local Group galaxies are at least 2 orders of magnitude below GLAST sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2001


  • Cosmic rays
  • Gamma rays: Theory
  • Local group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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