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Measurement of Galactic 26Al with the Compton Spectrometer and Imager

Abstract : The Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) is a balloon-borne compact Compton telescope designed to survey the 0.2-5 MeV sky. COSI's energy resolution of ~0.2% at 1.8 MeV, single-photon reconstruction, and wide field of view make it capable of studying astrophysical nuclear lines, particularly the 1809 keV γ-ray line from decaying Galactic 26Al. Most 26Al originates in massive stars and core-collapse supernova nucleosynthesis, but the path from stellar evolution models to Galaxy-wide emission remains unconstrained. In 2016, COSI had a successful 46 day flight on a NASA superpressure balloon. Here, we detail the first search for the 1809 keV 26Al line in the COSI 2016 balloon flight using a maximum-likelihood analysis. We find a Galactic 26Al flux of (8.6 ± 2.5) × 10-4 ph cm-2 s-1 within the Inner Galaxy (∣ℓ∣ ≤ 30°, ∣b∣ ≤ 10°) with 3.7σ significance above background. Within uncertainties, this flux is consistent with expectations from previous measurements by SPectrometer on INTEGRAL (SPI) and the Compton Telescope on the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (COMPTEL). This analysis demonstrates COSI's powerful capabilities for studies of γ-ray lines and underscores the scientific potential of future compact Compton telescopes. In particular, the next iteration of COSI as a NASA Small Explorer satellite has recently been approved for launch in 2025.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 20, 2022 - 3:09:24 PM
Last modification on : Monday, July 4, 2022 - 10:27:00 AM

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Jacqueline Beechert, Thomas Siegert, John A. Tomsick, Andreas Zoglauer, Steven E. Boggs, et al.. Measurement of Galactic 26Al with the Compton Spectrometer and Imager. The Astrophysical Journal, 2022, 928, ⟨10.3847/1538-4357/ac56dc⟩. ⟨insu-03672030⟩

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