Gamma-Ray Absorption by the Cosmic Lyman Continuum from Star-forming Galaxies
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Gamma-Ray Absorption by the Cosmic Lyman Continuum from Star-forming Galaxies


Abstract Motivated by the discovery of the ultra-strong emission-line starburst galaxies (EELGs) known as “green pea galaxies,” in this work we consider their contribution to the intergalactic flux of ionizing UV at high redshifts. Most galaxies that have been observed show a precipitous drop in the flux blueward of their Lyman limit. However, recent observations of EELGs have discovered that many more Lyman continuum photons escape from them into intergalactic space than previously suspected. We calculate their contribution to the extragalactic background light. We also calculate the effect of these photons on the absorption of high-energy γ-rays. For the more distant γ-ray sources, particularly at z ≥ 3, an intergalactic opacity above a few GeV is significantly higher than previous estimates which ignored the Lyman continuum photons. We calculate the results of this increased opacity on observed γ-ray spectra, which produce a high-energy turnover starting at lower energies than previously thought, and a gradual spectral steepening that may also be observable.

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