Context. Puppis A is an interesting ∼4 kyr-old supernova remnant (SNR) that shows strong evidence of interaction between the forward shock and a molecular cloud. It has been studied in detail from radio frequencies to high-energy (HE, 0.1..100 GeV) γ-rays. An analysis of the Fermi-LAT data has shown extended HE γ-ray emission with a 0.2-100 GeV spectrum exhibiting no significant deviation from a power law, unlike most of the GeV-emitting SNRs known to be interacting with molecular clouds. This makes it a promising target for imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes (IACTs) to probe the γ-ray emission above 100 GeV.
Aims. Very-high-energy (VHE, E ≥ 0.1 TeV) γ-ray emission from Puppis A has been, for the first time, searched for with the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.).
Methods. Stereoscopic imaging of Cherenkov radiation from extensive air showers is used to reconstruct the direction and energy of the incident γ-rays in order to produce sky images and source spectra. The profile likelihood method is applied to find constraints on the existence of a potential break or cutoff in the photon spectrum.
Results. The analysis of the H.E.S.S. data does not reveal any significant emission towards Puppis A. The derived upper limits on the differential photon flux imply that its broadband γ-ray spectrum must exhibit a spectral break or cutoff. By combining Fermi-LAT and H.E.S.S. measurements, the 99% confidence-level upper limits on such a cutoff are found to be 450 and 280 GeV, assuming a power law with a simple exponential and a sub-exponential cutoff, respectively. It is concluded that none of the standard limitations (age, size, radiative losses) on the particle acceleration mechanism, assumed to be continuing at present, can explain the lack of VHE signal. The scenario in which particle acceleration has ceased some time ago is considered as an alternative explanation. The HE/VHE spectrum of Puppis A could then exhibit a break of non-radiative origin (as observed in several other interacting SNRs, albeit at somewhat higher energies), owing to the interaction with dense and neutral material, in particular towards the NE region.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funded by contract ERC-StG-259391 from the European Community.
The support of the Namibian authorities and of the University of Namibia in facilitating the construction and operation of H.E.S.S. is gratefully acknowledged, as is the support by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), the Max Planck Society, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the French Ministry for Research, the CNRS-IN2P3, and the Astroparticle Interdisciplinary Programme of the CNRS, the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the IPNP of the Charles University, the Czech Science Foundation, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the South African Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation, and by the University of Namibia. We appreciate the excellent work of the technical support staff in Berlin, Durham, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Palaiseau, Paris, Saclay, and in Namibia in the construction and operation of the equipment. We thank Gloria Dubner for providing the 1.4 GHz radio image of Puppis A.
© 2015 ESO.
- Acceleration of particles
- Cosmic rays
- Gamma rays: ISM
- ISM: individual objects: Puppis A
- Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal