(Submitted August 06, 1996)
I am a PhD student at the Observatory in Torino (Italy).
I would like to ask you if is it possible to have high-energy gamma
emissions (that's to say up to 30 MeV) from some kind of dissections of
nuclei? I know about Carbon and Oxygen at about 5-6 MeV and I know about the
decay energy emission (e.g. aluminum and iron and others) not up to
10 MeV. Can one use EGRET or other similar high-energy satellites (e.g.
in the future AMS) to study stellar production of some kind of nuclei
(excited for example by the passage of a shock wave)?
Thanks for your question about gamma-ray lines and satellite
capabilities to study production of these nuclei. We've consulted
with Dr. David Thompson (of the EGRET team here at NASA/Goddard)
about your questions.
The highest energy gamma-ray line of which we are aware is
one at about 20 MeV resulting from an exited state of tritium.
Tritium is so unstable, however, that it is unlikely to be
significant in any astrophysical situation. There are a few
other lines between 10 and 20 MeV, but the vast majority of
deexcitation lines, and all those which have been considered
likely astrophysical candidates, have energies below 10 MeV.
EGRET does have some energy measurement capability at 20 MeV,
but not with adequate resolution to see a narrow line. The same
is likely to be true of AMS or GLAST. A far more promising avenue
for the study of astrophysical lines is INTEGRAL, which has the
high resolution and high sensitivity in the energy range of