High-energy emission from nonrelativistic radiative shocks: application to gamma-ray novae.
VURM I. and METZGER B.D.
Abstract (from CDS):
The observation of GeV gamma-rays from novae by Fermi/LAT demonstrates that the nonrelativistic radiative shocks in these systems can accelerate particles to energies of at least ∼10 GeV. The low-energy extension of the same nonthermal particle distribution inevitably gives rise to emission in the hard X-ray band. Above 10 keV, this radiation can escape the system without significant absorption/attenuation, and can potentially be detected by NuSTAR. We present theoretical models for hard X-ray and gamma-ray emission from radiative shocks in both leptonic and hadronic scenarios, accounting for the rapid evolution of the downstream properties due to the fast cooling of thermal plasma. We find that due to strong Coulomb losses, only a fraction of 10–4–10–3 of the gamma-ray luminosity is radiated in the NuSTAR band; nevertheless, this emission could be detectable simultaneously with the LAT emission in bright gamma-ray novae with a ∼50 ks exposure. The spectral slope in hard X-rays is α~0 for typical nova parameters, thus serving as a testable prediction of the model. Our work demonstrates how combined hard X-ray and gamma-ray observations can be used to constrain properties of the nova outflow (velocity, density, and mass outflow rate) and particle acceleration at the shock. A very low X-ray to gamma-ray luminosity ratio (LX/Lγ 5×10–4) would disfavor leptonic models for the gamma-ray emission. Our model can also be applied to other astrophysical environments with radiative shocks, including SNe IIn and colliding winds in massive star binaries.