Evidence for a high-energy tail in the gamma-ray spectra of globular clusters
ABSTRACT Millisecond pulsars are very likely the main source of gamma-ray emission from globular clusters. However, the relative contributions of two separate emission processes – curvature radiation from millisecond pulsar magnetospheres versus inverse Compton emission from relativistic pairs launched into the globular cluster environment by millisecond pulsars – have long been unclear. To address this, we search for evidence of inverse Compton emission in 8-yr Fermi–LAT data from the directions of 157 Milky Way globular clusters. We find a mildly statistically significant (3.8σ) correlation between the measured globular cluster gamma-ray luminosities and their photon field energy densities. However, this may also be explained by a hidden correlation between the photon field densities and the stellar encounter rates of globular clusters. Analysed in toto, we demonstrate that the gamma-ray emission of globular clusters can be resolved spectrally into two components: (i) an exponentially cut-off power law and (ii) a pure power law. The latter component – which we uncover at a significance of 8.2σ – has a power index of 2.79 ± 0.25. It is most naturally interpreted as inverse Compton emission by cosmic-ray electrons and positrons injected by millisecond pulsars. We find the luminosity of this power-law component is comparable to, or more »
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10345708
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
507
Issue:
4
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
5161 to 5176
ISSN:
0035-8711
National Science Foundation
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