The large majority of EGRET point sources remain to this day without an identified low-energy counterpart. Whatever the nature of the EGRET unidentified sources, faint unresolved objects of the same class must have a contribution to the diffuse gamma-ray background: if most unidentified objects are extragalactic, faint unresolved sources of the same class contribute to the background, as a distinct extragalactic population; on the other hand, if most unidentified sources are Galactic, their counterparts in external galaxies will contribute to the unresolved emission from these systems. Understanding this component of the gamma-ray background, along with other guaranteed contributions from known sources, is essential in any attempt to use gamma-ray observations to constrain exotic high-energy physics. Here, we follow an empirical approach to estimate whether a potential contribution of unidentified sources to the extragalactic gamma-ray background is likely to be important, and we find that it is. Additionally, we comment on how the anticipated GLAST measurement of the diffuse gamma-ray background will change, depending on the nature of the majority of these sources.
- Gamma rays: observations
- Gamma-ray sources: astronomical
- Radiation sources: unidentified
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science