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Journal Articles The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review Year : 2013

Gamma-ray binaries and related systems


After initial claims and a long hiatus, it is now established that several binary stars emit high- (0.1-100 GeV) and very high-energy (>100 GeV) gamma rays. A new class has emerged called "gamma-ray binaries", since most of their radiated power is emitted beyond 1 MeV. Accreting X-ray binaries, novae and a colliding wind binary ( η Car) have also been detected—"related systems" that confirm the ubiquity of particle acceleration in astrophysical sources. Do these systems have anything in common? What drives their high-energy emission? How do the processes involved compare to those in other sources of gamma rays: pulsars, active galactic nuclei, supernova remnants? I review the wealth of observational and theoretical work that have followed these detections, with an emphasis on gamma-ray binaries. I present the current evidence that gamma-ray binaries are driven by rotation-powered pulsars. Binaries are laboratories giving access to different vantage points or physical conditions on a regular timescale as the components revolve on their orbit. I explain the basic ingredients that models of gamma-ray binaries use, the challenges that they currently face, and how they can bring insights into the physics of pulsars. I discuss how gamma-ray emission from microquasars provides a window into the connection between accretion-ejection and acceleration, while η Car and novae raise new questions on the physics of these objects—or on the theory of diffusive shock acceleration. Indeed, explaining the gamma-ray emission from binaries strains our theories of high-energy astrophysical processes, by testing them on scales and in environments that were generally not foreseen, and this is how these detections are most valuable.

Dates and versions

insu-03616486 , version 1 (22-03-2022)



Guillaume Dubus. Gamma-ray binaries and related systems. The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review, 2013, 21, ⟨10.1007/s00159-013-0064-5⟩. ⟨insu-03616486⟩
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