Fermi large area telescope study of cosmic rays and the interstellar medium in nearby molecular clouds

M. Ackermann*, M. Ajello, A. Allafort, L. Baldini, J. Ballet, G. Barbiellini, D. Bastieri, K. Bechtol, R. Bellazzini, B. Berenji, R. D. Blandford, E. D. Bloom, E. Bonamente, A. W. Borgland, E. Bottacini, T. J. Brandt, J. Bregeon, M. Brigida, P. Bruel, R. BuehlerG. Busetto, S. Buson, G. A. Caliandro, R. A. Cameron, P. A. Caraveo, J. M. Casandjian, C. Cecchi, E. Charles, A. Chekhtman, J. Chiang, S. Ciprini, R. Claus, J. Cohen-Tanugi, J. Conrad, F. D'Ammando, A. De Angelis, F. De Palma, C. D. Dermer, S. W. Digel, E. Do Couto E Silva, P. S. Drell, A. Drlica-Wagner, L. Falletti, C. Favuzzi, S. J. Fegan, E. C. Ferrara, W. B. Focke, Y. Fukazawa, Y. Fukui, S. Funk, P. Fusco, F. Gargano, D. Gasparrini, S. Germani, N. Giglietto, F. Giordano, M. Giroletti, T. Glanzman, G. Godfrey, I. A. Grenier, M. H. Grondin, J. E. Grove, S. Guiriec, D. Hadasch, Y. Hanabata, A. K. Harding, K. Hayashi, D. Horan, X. Hou, R. E. Hughes, R. Itoh, M. S. Jackson, G. Jóhannesson, A. S. Johnson, T. Kamae, H. Katagiri, J. Kataoka, J. Knödlseder, M. Kuss, J. Lande, S. Larsson, S. H. Lee, M. Lemoine-Goumard, F. Longo, F. Loparco, M. N. Lovellette, P. Lubrano, P. Martin, M. N. Mazziotta, J. E. McEnery, J. Mehault, P. F. Michelson, W. Mitthumsiri, T. Mizuno, A. A. Moiseev, C. Monte, M. E. Monzani, A. Morselli, I. V. Moskalenko, S. Murgia, M. Naumann-Godo, R. Nemmen, S. Nishino, J. P. Norris, E. Nuss, M. Ohno, T. Ohsugi, A. Okumura, N. Omodei, E. Orlando, J. F. Ormes, M. Ozaki, D. Paneque, J. H. Panetta, D. Parent, M. Pesce-Rollins, M. Pierbattista, F. Piron, G. Pivato, T. A. Porter, S. Rainò, R. Rando, M. Razzano, A. Reimer, O. Reimer, C. Romoli, M. Roth, T. Sada, H. F.W. Sadrozinski, D. A. Sanchez, C. Sbarra, C. Sgrò, E. J. Siskind, G. Spandre, P. Spinelli, A. W. Strong, D. J. Suson, H. Takahashi, T. Takahashi, T. Tanaka, J. G. Thayer, J. B. Thayer, D. J. Thompson, L. Tibaldo, O. Tibolla, M. Tinivella, D. F. Torres, G. Tosti, A. Tramacere, E. Troja, Y. Uchiyama, T. Uehara, T. L. Usher, J. Vandenbroucke, V. Vasileiou, G. Vianello, V. Vitale, A. P. Waite, P. Wang, B. L. Winer, K. S. Wood, H. Yamamoto, Z. Yang, S. Zimmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


We report an analysis of the interstellar γ-ray emission from the Chamaeleon, R Coronae Australis (R CrA), and Cepheus and Polaris flare regions with the Fermi Large Area Telescope. They are among the nearest molecular cloud complexes, within 300pc from the solar system. The γ-ray emission produced by interactions of cosmic rays (CRs) and interstellar gas in those molecular clouds is useful to study the CR densities and distributions of molecular gas close to the solar system. The obtained γ-ray emissivities above 250MeV are (5.9 ± 0.1stat +0.9 -1.0sys) × 10-27photonss-1sr-1 H-atom-1, (10.2 ± 0.4stat +1.2 -1.7sys) × 10 -27photonss-1sr-1 H-atom-1, and (9.1 ± 0.3stat +1.5 -0.6sys) × 10 -27photonss-1sr-1 H-atom-1 for the Chamaeleon, R CrA, and Cepheus and Polaris flare regions, respectively. Whereas the energy dependences of the emissivities agree well with that predicted from direct CR observations at the Earth, the measured emissivities from 250MeV to 10 GeV indicate a variation of the CR density by 20% in the neighborhood of the solar system, even if we consider systematic uncertainties. The molecular mass calibrating ratio, X CO = N(H2)/W CO, is found to be (0.96 ± 0.06stat +0.15 -0.12sys) × 1020 H2-moleculecm-2 (Kkms -1)-1, (0.99 ± 0.08stat +0.18 -0.10sys) × 1020 H2-moleculecm -2 (Kkms-1)-1, and (0.63 ± 0.02 stat +0.09 -0.07sys) × 1020 H2-moleculecm-2 (Kkms-1)-1 for the Chamaeleon, R CrA, and Cepheus and Polaris flare regions, respectively, suggesting a variation of X CO in the vicinity of the solar system. From the obtained values of X CO, the masses of molecular gas traced by W CO in the Chamaeleon, R CrA, and Cepheus and Polaris flare regions are estimated to be 5 × 103 M, 103 M, and 3.3 × 104 M ,respectively. A comparable amount of gas not traced well by standard H I and CO surveys is found in the regions investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug 10


  • cosmic rays
  • gamma rays: ISM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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