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Publication details

A cut-off in the TeV gamma-ray spectrum of the SNR Cassiopeia A

MAGIC collaboration, Ahnen et al.

Corresponding author(s): Daniel Galindo, Emma de Oña Wilhelmi, Daniel Guberman


Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 472, 2956–2962, August 2017 (Submitted 2017/07/05)

External urlhttps://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stx2079

(Submitted on 5 Jul 2017, last revised 5 Jul 2017)


It is widely believed that the bulk of the Galactic cosmic rays are accelerated in supernova remnants (SNRs). However, no observational evidence of the presence of particles of PeV energies in SNRs has yet been found. The young historical SNR Cassiopeia A (Cas A) appears as one of the best candidates to study acceleration processes. Between December 2014 and October 2016 we observed Cas A with the MAGIC telescopes, accumulating 158 hours of good-quality data. We derived the spectrum of the source from 100 GeV to 10 TeV. We also analysed $\sim$8 years of $Fermi$-LAT to obtain the spectral shape between 60 MeV and 500 GeV. The spectra measured by the LAT and MAGIC telescopes are compatible within the errors and show a clear turn off (4.6 $\sigma$) at the highest energies, which can be described with an exponential cut-off at $E_c = 3.5\left(^{+1.6}_{-1.0}\right)_{\textit{stat}} \left(^{+0.8}_{-0.9}\right)_{\textit{sys}}$ TeV. The gamma-ray emission from 60 MeV to 10 TeV can be attributed to a population of high-energy protons with spectral index $\sim$2.2 and energy cut-off at $\sim$10 TeV. This result indicates that Cas A is not contributing to the high energy ($\sim$PeV) cosmic-ray sea in a significant manner at the present moment. A one-zone leptonic model fails to reproduce by itself the multi-wavelength spectral energy distribution. Besides, if a non-negligible fraction of the flux seen by MAGIC is produced by leptons, the radiation should be emitted in a region with a low magnetic field (B$\lessapprox$100$\mu$G) like in the reverse shock.)