Limits for an inverse bremsstrahlung origin of the diffuse Galactic soft gamma-ray emission

M. Pohl

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RXTE, GINGA, and OSSE observations have revealed an intense low-energy gamma-ray continuum emission from the Galactic plane, which is commonly interpreted as evidence for the possible existence of a strong flux of low-energy cosmic ray electrons. In this Paper I discuss the scenario of a hadronic origin of the soft Galactic gamma-ray continuum through inverse bremsstrahlung. A flux of low-energy cosmic rays strong enough to produce the observed spectrum of gamma-rays implies substantial gamma-ray emission at a few MeV through nuclear de-excitation. It is shown that the existing limits on excess 3-7 MeV emission from the Galactic plane, in concert with the constraints from pi(0)-decay gamma-ray emission at higher energies, are in serious conflict with an inverse bremsstrahlung origin of the Galactic soft gamma-ray emission for any physically plausible low-energy cosmic ray spectrum. While in case of energetic heavy nuclei the limits are violated by about an order of magnitude, for a large population of low-energy protons the implied gamma-ray line flux and pi(0)-decay continuum intensity are larger than the existing limits by at least a factor of 2.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)587-590
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • acceleration of particles
  • gamma rays : theory
  • cosmic rays
  • radiation mechanisms : non-thermal

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