X-ray Hotspot Flares and Implications for Cosmic Ray Acceleration and Magnetic Field amplification in Supernova Remnants

Kavli Affiliate: Troy Porter

| First 5 Authors: Yousaf Butt, Troy Porter, Boaz Katz, Eli Waxman,

| Summary:

For more than fifty years, it has been believed that cosmic ray (CR) nuclei
are accelerated to high energies in the rapidly expanding shockwaves created by
powerful supernova explosions. Yet observational proof of this conjecture is
still lacking. Recently, Uchiyama and collaborators reported the detection of
small-scale X-ray flares in one such supernova remnant, dubbed ‘RX J1713-3946’
(a.k.a. G347.3-0.5), which also emits very energetic, TeV (10^12 eV) range,
gamma-rays. They contend that the variability of these X-ray ‘hotspots’ implies
that the magnetic field in the remnant is about a hundred times larger than
normally assumed; and this, they say, means that the detected TeV range photons
were produced in energetic nuclear interactions, providing ‘a strong argument
for acceleration of protons and nuclei to energies of 1 PeV (10^15 eV) and
beyond in young supernova remnants.’ We point out here that the existing
multiwavelength data on this object certainly do not support such conclusions.
Though intriguing, the small-scale X-ray flares are not the long sought-after
‘smoking gun’ of nucleonic CR acceleration in SNRs.

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