Follow this link to skip to the main content

Diffuse Background Cool Fact - Introduction

Diffuse Background

A diffuse background of X-rays is known to emanate from the whole sky. The origin of this is not known although it is clear that at least some of it comes from many distant active galactic nuclei which are known to emit X-rays.

Below 1 keV the soft X-ray diffuse background is believed to be largely galactic in origin. Thermal emission from hot gas is the likely source of this flux, and for this reason its spectrum is dominated by emission lines from highly ionized species.

In the X-ray band above 1 keV, the diffuse emission comes predominantly from sources of extra galactic origin.

It is possible that all of the background is due to discrete sources, but this hasn't been conclusively demonstrated. Some truly diffuse emission of cosmic origin is still a possibility. This would imply a vast amount of previously unseen matter in the universe.


A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC

NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration