Aims. We present results from deep observations of the Galactic shell-type supernova remnant (SNR) RX J1713.7-3946 (also known as 0347.3-0.5) conducted with the complete HESS array in 2004. Methods. Detailed morphological and spatially resolved spectral studies reveal the very-high-energy (VHE - Energies E > 100 GeV) gamma-ray aspects of this object with unprecedented precision. Since this is the first in-depth analysis of an extended VHE gamma-ray source, we present a thorough discussion of our methodology and investigations of possible sources of systematic errors. Results. Gamma rays are detected throughout the whole SNR. The emission is found to resemble a shell structure with increased fluxes from the western and northwestern parts. The differential gamma-ray spectrum of the whole SNR is measured over more than two orders of magnitude, from 190 GeV to 40 TeV, and is rather hard with indications for a deviation from a pure power law at high energies. Spectra have also been determined for spatially separated regions of RX J1713.7-3946. The flux values vary by more than a factor of two, but no significant change in spectral shape is found. There is a striking correlation between the X-ray and the gamma-ray image. Radial profiles in both wavelength regimes reveal the same shape almost everywhere in the region of the SNR. Conclusions. The VHE gamma-ray emission of RX J1713.7-3946 is phenomenologically discussed for two scenarios, one where the gamma rays are produced by VHE electrons via Inverse Compton scattering and one where the gamma rays are due to neutral pion decay from proton-proton interactions. In conjunction with multi-wavelength considerations, the latter case is favoured. However, no decisive conclusions can yet be drawn regarding the parent particle population dominantly responsible for the gamma-ray emission from RX J1713.7-3946.
- Acceleration of particles
- Gamma rays: observations
- ISM: cosmic rays
- ISM: individual objects: RX J1713.7-3946 (G347.3-0.5)
- ISM: supernova remnants