2017-07-07 Roland Diel (MPE)
Cosmic gamma-ray lines are messengers of transitions in high-energy systems, and complement astrophysics based on realms of atomic and thermal physics and processes. In this talk I will focus on the low-energy part of gamma rays, where nuclei and their energy levels dominate the observable signatures; but I will include electron-positron annihilation, as one case of the astro-particle processes that dominate physics in the high-energy part of the gamma-ray regime. -- Astronomical observations of nuclear transitions show that cosmic nucleosynthesis produces unstable radioactive isotopes: The gamma rays seen from decays of 56Ni, 44Ti, 60Fe, and 26Al thus have spawned studies of supernovae and massive-star interiors, where cosmic nuclear reactions produce these isotopes. Supernova explosions in their interiors appear to be clearly driven by processes that are intrinsically not spherically symmetric. The same insight has been obtained from developments in theoretical and numerical models of supernova explosions. We will explore how this might be connected. The long-lived radio-isotopes (60Fe, 26Al) decay far from their sources, and cumulative emission from many sources tells us about interstellar transport of nucleosynthesis ejecta. The time scale addressed here is millions of years, and fills an observational gap between supernova remnants and matter recycled between stellar generations. We will illuminate here what chemical evolution models often abbreviate as instantaneous recycling. Interstellar annihilation of positrons produces the brightest gamma-ray line in this regime, at 511 keV. We will discuss the diversity of candidate sources of such positrons. We show that most of those cannot explain what gamma-ray telescopes measure, and single dominating sources as often claimed are rather not the solution; astroparticle studies from multiple messengers seem like a promising strategy.