Blanc – Accords bilatéraux 2013 - SIMI 5 - Blanc – Accords bilatéraux 2013 - SIMI 5 - Physique subatomique et théories associées, astrophysique, astronomie et planétologie

Detecting Galactic diffuse emission in the Very High Energy domain – VHEDiffuse

Submission summary

Diffuse emission is the most prominent observational signature from the sky at Gigaelectronvolt (GeV) energies. Galactic diffuse emission was established before individual gamma-ray sources started to emerge and constitute a prime source of knowledge about cosmic-ray particle interactions and radiation processes ever since. Diffuse GeV gamma-ray emission still constitutes the systematic limit of source detection near instrumental threshold. In contrast to the GeV domain the search for diffuse emission at Teraelectronvolt (TeV) energies is still in its infancy, largely due to the predominant charged particle background that constitutes a principal instrumental challenge of the atmospheric Cherenkov technique. Diffuse emission is expected in the VHE domain, too: on Galactic scale primarily from hadronic particle interactions with interstellar gas and Inverse Compton scattering of high energy electrons with interstellar radiation fields, but also when encountering intense radiation fields or dense molecular clouds in the local vicinity of cosmic accelerators. Both processes are indicative for particle escape from their acceleration regions. This last, most energetic window for astronomical investigation, the domain of Very High Energies (VHE) gamma-rays, was unveiled by the systematic observations with the H.E.S.S. telescope array, a breakthrough recognized by the award of the Descartes Prize in 2006 and Rossi Prize in 2010. One of the major achievements of H.E.S.S. was the survey of the inner regions of our Galaxy, which led to the discovery of more than 50 new energetic sources.
The proposed project aims at establishing the existence, spatial and spectral signature of diffuse emission at TeV energies. H.E.S.S. observations are to be compared with predictions from a model of diffuse VHE emission that will be specifically developed for the project. On the instrumental side, the investigation will push the limits of atmospheric Cherenkov imaging in sensitivity and energy through the development of more precise reconstruction techniques, and more effective background subtraction methods. Advanced modelling of the isotropic charged particle background and development of a likelihood-based analysis technique is proposed, the latter being a novelty for investigating VHE data. Systematics induced by the geomagnetic field and inhomogeneities of the night sky background on the instrument response will be addressed with particular care. The construction of a model of diffuse emission at TeV energies appears to be demanding due to competing phenomena, such as the energy-dependent escape of charged particles from the acceleration region vs. particle transport on larger scales inside our Galaxy.
Detection and study of diffuse VHE emission will constitute a major scientific breakthrough, allowing the community to further understand particle propagation in the Galaxy up to the knee (1015 eV) and how particles are released into the interstellar medium. It will allow a closer connection to GeV measurements, benefiting from orthogonal observational techniques – satellite-based direct pair conversion vs. ground-based indirect air shower detections – deployed on a large scale, non-source related investigation. Consequently, the intensity and energy dependence of different constituents of the diffuse emission will extend our understanding of common physics processes to the most energetic end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Through an assessment of the irreducible background it will prepare the advent of the Cherenkov Telescope Array by establishing the hard detection limit for gamma-ray sources and will allow investigation of a putative dark matter component in the suspected WIMP rest mass region. The project results will allow generalizing from single-source detection to source population studies, and, for the first time, estimating the unresolved source component in a comprehensive way.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Mathieu DE NAUROIS (Laboratoire Leprince Ringuet) –

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LLR Laboratoire Leprince Ringuet
Universität Innsbruck, Austria Institut für Astro- und Teilchenphysik Leopold-Franzens

Help of the ANR 141,960 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: August 2014 - 36 Months

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