Résumé / Abstract Seminaire_IAP
« The 511 keV emission from positron annihilation in the Galaxy »

Nicolas Prantzos

The first gamma-ray line originating from outside the solar system that was ever detected is the 511 keV emission from positron annihilation in the Galaxy. Despite 30 years of intense theoretical and observational investigation, the main sources of positrons have not been identified up to now. Observations in the 1990's with OSSE/CGRO showed that the emission is strongly concentrated towards the Galactic bulge. In the 2000's, the SPI instrument aboard ESA's INTEGRAL gamma-ray observatory allowed scientists to measure that emission across the entire Galaxy, revealing that the bulge/disk luminosity ratio is larger than observed in any other wavelength. This mapping prompted a number of novel explanations, including rather "exotic" ones (e.g. dark matter annihilation). However, conventional astrophysical sources, like type Ia supernovae, microquasars or X-ray binaries, are still plausible candidates for a large fraction of the observed total 511 keV emission of the bulge. A closer study of the subject reveals new layers of complexity, since positrons may propagate far away from their production sites, making it difficult to infer the underlying source distribution from the observed map of 511 keV emission. However, contrary to the rather well understood propagation of high energy (>GeV) particles of Galactic cosmic rays, understanding the propagation of low energy (MeV) positrons in the turbulent, magnetized interstellar medium, still remains a formidable challenge. I shall review the spectral and imaging properties of the observed 511 keV emission and critically discuss candidate positron sources and models of positron propagation in the Galaxy.
vendredi 10 juin 2011 - 11:00
Salle des séminaires Évry Schatzman, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris
Page web du séminaire / Seminar's webpage