Gamma-Ray Emission of 60Fe and 26Al Radioactivity in Our Galaxy

W. Wang, T. Siegert, Z. G. Dai, R. Diehl, J. Greiner, A. Heger, M. Krause, M. Lang, M. M.M. Pleintinger, X. L. Zhang

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The isotopes 60Fe and 26Al originate from massive stars and their supernovae, reflecting ongoing nucleosynthesis in the Galaxy. We studied the gamma-ray emission from these isotopes at characteristic energies 1173, 1332, and 1809 keV with over 15 yr of SPI data, finding a line flux in 60Fe combined lines of (0.31\pm 0.06)\× 10-3\,\&ph;\,cm-2\,s-1 and the Al line flux of (16.8\pm 0.7)\× 10-4\,\&ph;\,-2\,s-1 above the background and continuum emission for the whole sky. Based on the exponential disk grid maps, we characterize the emission extent of 26Al to find scale parameters R0=7.0-1.0+1.5 and z 0=0.8-0.2+0.3 kpc; however, the 60Fe lines are too weak to spatially constrain the emission. Based on a point-source model test across the Galactic plane, the 60Fe emission would not be consistent with a single strong point source in the Galactic center or somewhere else, providing a hint of a diffuse nature. We carried out comparisons of emission morphology maps using different candidate source tracers for both 26Al and 60Fe emissions and suggest that the 60Fe emission is more likely to be concentrated toward the Galactic plane. We determine the 60Fe/26Al γ-ray flux ratio at 18.4% ± 4.2% when using a parameterized spatial morphology model. Across the range of plausible morphologies, it appears possible that 26Al and 60Fe are distributed differently in the Galaxy. Using the best-fitting maps for each of the elements, we constrain flux ratios in the range 0.2-0.4. We discuss the implications for massive star models and their nucleosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number169
Number of pages13
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

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