Gamma Ray Astrophysics

  • F. W. Stecker
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (ASIC, volume 14)


In the context of an advanced study institute on the origin of cosmic rays, one can look at the subject of theoretical gammaray astrophysics from two points of view. The first seeks to answer the question, “What is the origin of the observed cosmic gamma radiation?”, considering this radiation as a component of cosmic radiation. The second seeks to answer the question, “What does the observed cosmic gamma radiation tell us about the origin of cosmic rays?” with the term “cosmic rays” meant to be the primary nuclear component of cosmic radiation (or perhaps the electronic component) and the gamma radiation considered to be a secondary product of various interactions between primary radiation and fields, photons and nuclei in the cosmos. This latter question is the historically older question, but it is inherently a much more difficult one to answer and is one which cannot be unambiguously answered at this point in time, given our relatively primitive observations and the context of our present theoretical understanding. Thus, of necessity, we will spend most of our time here discussing the origin of the gamma radiation itself, bearing in mind the relation of this problem with that of the origin of the nuclear component of cosmic radiation.


Pair Production Compton Scattering Cosmic Radiation Compton Interaction Compton Radiation 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. W. Stecker
    • 1
  1. 1.Theoretical Studies GroupNASA Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA

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