Galactic Population Synthesis of Radioactive Nucleosynthesis Ejecta

Thomas Siegert, Moritz M. M. Pleintinger, Roland Diehl, Martin G. H. Krause, Jochen Greiner, Christoph Weinberger

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Diffuse gamma-ray line emission traces freshly produced radioisotopes in the interstellar gas, providing a unique perspective on the entire Galactic cycle of matter from nucleosynthesis in massive stars to their ejection and mixing in the interstellar medium. We aim at constructing a model of nucleosynthesis ejecta on galactic scale which is specifically tailored to complement the physically most important and empirically accessible features of gamma-ray measurements in the MeV range, in particular for decay gamma-rays such as $^{26}$Al, $^{60}$Fe or $^{44}$Ti. Based on properties of massive star groups, we developed a Population Synthesis Code which can instantiate galaxy models quickly and based on many different parameter configurations, such as the star formation rate, density profiles, or stellar evolution models. As a result, we obtain model maps of nucleosynthesis ejecta in the Galaxy which incorporate the population synthesis calculations of individual massive star groups. Based on a variety of stellar evolution models, supernova explodabilities, and density distributions, we find that the measured $^{26}$Al distribution from INTEGRAL/SPI can be explained by a Galaxy-wide population synthesis model with a star formation rate of $4$-$8\,\mathrm{M_{\odot}\,yr^{-1}}$ and a spiral-arm dominated density profile with a scale height of at least 700 pc. Our model requires that most massive stars indeed undergo a supernova explosion. This corresponds to a supernova rate in the Milky Way of $1.8$-$2.8$ per century, with quasi-persistent $^{26}$Al and $^{60}$Fe masses of $1.2$-$2.4\,\mathrm{M_{\odot}}$ and $1$-$6\,\mathrm{M_{\odot}}$, respectively. Comparing the simulated morphologies to SPI data suggests that a frequent merging of superbubbles may take place in the Galaxy, and that an unknown but strong foreground emission at 1.8 MeV could be present.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2023


  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.HE


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