Gamma-gamma absorption in the $γ$-ray binary system PSR B1259-63/LS 2883 [HEAP]

The observed TeV light curve from the $\gamma$-ray binary PSR B1259-63/LS 2883 shows a decrease in the flux at periastron which has not been fully explained by emission mechanisms alone. This observed decrease can, however, be explained by gamma-gamma absorption due to the stellar and disk photons. We calculate the gamma-gamma absorption in PSR B1259-63/LS 2883 taking into account photons from both the circumstellar disk and star, assuming the $\gamma$ rays originate at the position of the pulsar. The gamma-gamma absorption due to the circumstellar disk photons produces a $\approx14\%$ decrease in the flux, and there is a total decrease of $\approx52\%$ ($>1$ TeV) within a few days before periastron, accompanied by a hardening of the $\gamma$-ray photon index. While the gamma-gamma absorption alone is not sufficient to explain the full complexity of the H.E.S.S. $\gamma$-ray light curve it results in a significant decrease in the predicted flux, which is co-incident with the observed decrease. In addition, we have calculated an upper-limit on the gamma-gamma absorption, assuming that the emission is produced at the apex of the bow shock. Future observations with CTA during the 2021 periastron passage may be able to confine the location of the emission based on the degree of gamma-gamma absorption as well as measure the hardening of the spectrum around periastron.

Read this paper on arXiv…

I. Sushch and B. Soelen
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 9 pages, 7 figures, 1 table. Accepted for publication in ApJ