Reconciling the diffuse Galactic γ -ray and the cosmic ray spectra

Lara Nava*, David Benyamin, Tsvi Piran, Nir J. Shaviv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Most of the diffuse Galactic GeV γ -ray emission is produced via collisions of cosmic ray (CR) protons with ISM protons. As such the observed spectra of the γ -rays and the CRs should be strongly linked. Recent observations of Fermi-LAT exhibit a hardening of the γ -ray spectrum at around a hundred GeV, between the Sagittarius and Carina tangents, and a further hardening at a few degrees above and below the Galactic plane. However, standard CR propagation models that assume a time-independent source distribution and a locationindependent diffusion cannot give rise to a spatially dependent CR (and hence γ -ray) spectral slopes. Here, we consider a dynamic spiral arm model in which the distribution of CR sources is concentrated in the (dynamic) spiral arms, and we study the effects of this model on the π0-decay-produced γ -ray spectra. Within this model, near the Galactic arms the observed γ -ray spectral slope is not trivially related to the CR injection spectrum and energy dependence of the diffusion coefficient. We find unique signatures that agree with the Fermi-LAT observations. This model also provides a physical explanation for the difference between the local CR spectral slope and the CR slope inferred from the average γ -ray spectrum.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3674-3681
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors.


  • Cosmic rays
  • Diffusion
  • Galaxy: general
  • Gamma rays: ISM
  • ISM: general


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