Cosmic-ray electrons and positrons (CREs) at GeV-TeV energies are a unique probe of our local Galactic neighborhood. CREs lose energy rapidly via synchrotron radiation and inverse-Compton scattering processes while propagating within the Galaxy, and these losses limit their propagation distance. For electrons with TeV energies, the limit is on the order of a kiloparsec. Within that distance, there are only a few known astrophysical objects capable of accelerating electrons to such high energies. It is also possible that the CREs are the products of the annihilation or decay of heavy dark matter (DM) particles. VERITAS, an array of imaging air Cherenkov telescopes in southern Arizona, is primarily utilized for gamma-ray astronomy but also simultaneously collects CREs during all observations. We describe our methods of identifying CREs in VERITAS data and present an energy spectrum, extending from 300 GeV to 5 TeV, obtained from approximately 300 hours of observations. A single power-law fit is ruled out in VERITAS data. We find that the spectrum of CREs is consistent with a broken power law, with a break energy at 710±40stat±140syst GeV.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution, and by NSERC in Canada. We acknowledge the excellent work of the technical support staff at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory and at the collaborating institutions in the construction and operation of the instrument. Computations were made on the supercomputer Guillimin from McGill University, managed by Calcul Quebec and Compute Canada. The operation of this supercomputer is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), NanoQuebec and the Fonds de recherche du Quebec—Nature et technologies (FRQ-NT).