Charles Dermer - NRL

Charles Dermer
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Charles Dermer

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (32)
Astrophysics (17)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (11)
High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (3)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (2)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (2)

Publications Authored By Charles Dermer

The {\gamma}-ray flares from the Crab nebula observed by AGILE and Fermi-LAT reaching GeV energies and lasting several days challenge the standard models for particle acceleration in pulsar wind nebulae, because the radiating electrons have energies exceeding the classical radiation-reaction limit for synchrotron. Previous modeling has suggested that the synchrotron limit can be exceeded if the electrons experience electrostatic acceleration, but the resulting spectra do not agree very well with the data. As a result, there are still some important unanswered questions about the detailed particle acceleration and emission processes occurring during the flares. Read More

Knowledge of the distant high-energy universe comes from photons, ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs), high-energy neutrinos, and gravitational waves. The theory of high-energy messengers reviewed here focuses on the extragalactic background light at all wavelengths, cosmic rays and magnetic fields in intergalactic space, and neutrinos of extragalactic origin. Comparisons are drawn between the intensities of photons and UHECRs in intergalactic space, and the high-energy neutrinos recently detected with IceCube at about the Waxman-Bahcall flux. Read More

Active Galactic Nuclei can be copious extragalactic emitters of MeV-GeV-TeV gamma rays, a phenomenon linked to the presence of relativistic jets powered by a super-massive black hole in the center of the host galaxy. Most of gamma-ray emitting active galactic nuclei, with more than 1500 known at GeV energies, and more than 60 at TeV energies, are called "blazars". The standard blazar paradigm features a jet of relativistic magnetized plasma ejected from the neighborhood of a spinning and accreting super-massive black hole, close to the observer direction. Read More

This article reviews a few topics relevant to Galactic cosmic-ray astrophysics, focusing on the recent AMS-02 data release and Fermi Large Area Telescope data on the diffuse Galactic gamma-ray emissivity. Calculations are made of the diffuse cosmic-ray induced p+p --> pi^0 --> 2 gamma spectra, normalized to the AMS-02 cosmic-ray proton spectrum at ~ 10 - 100 GV, with and without a hardening in the cosmic-ray proton spectrum at rigidities R >~ 300 GV. A single power-law momentum "shock" spectrum for the local interstellar medium cosmic-ray proton spectrum cannot be ruled out from the gamma-ray emissivity data alone without considering the additional contribution of electron bremsstrahlung. Read More

Fermi-LAT analyses show that the gamma-ray photon spectral indices Gamma_gamma of a large sample of blazars correlate with the vFv peak synchrotron frequency v_s according to the relation Gamma_gamma = d - k log v_s. The same function, with different constants d and k, also describes the relationship between Gamma_gamma and peak Compton frequency v_C. This behavior is derived analytically using an equipartition blazar model with a log-parabola description of the electron energy distribution (EED). Read More

Anisotropy in the arrival direction distribution of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) produced by powerful sources is numerically evaluated. We show that, taking account of the Galactic magnetic field, nondetection of significant anisotropy at $\approx 10^{19}$ eV at present and in future experiments imposes general upper limits on UHECR proton luminosity of steady sources as a function of source redshifts. The upper limits constrain the existence of typical steady sources in the local universe and limit the local density of $10^{19}$ eV UHECR sources to be $\gtrsim 10^{-3}$ Mpc$^{-3},$ assuming average intergalactic magnetic fields less than $10^{-9}$ G. Read More

In this paper, we use previously developed exact solutions to present some of the curious features of a force-free magnetosphere in a Kerr background. More precisely, we obtain a hitherto unseen timelike current in the force-free magnetosphere that does not flow along a geodesic. The electromagnetic field in this case happens to be magnetically dominated. Read More

The IceCube collaboration has reported neutrinos with energies between ~30 TeV and a few PeV that are significantly enhanced over the cosmic-ray induced atmospheric background. Viable high-energy neutrino sources must contain very high-energy and ultra-high energy cosmic rays while efficiently making PeV neutrinos. Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs) and blazars have been considered as candidate cosmic-ray accelerators. Read More

We study high-energy neutrino production in inner jets of radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGN), taking into account effects of external photon fields and the blazar sequence. We show that the resulting diffuse neutrino intensity is dominated by quasar-hosted blazars, in particular, flat spectrum radio quasars, and that PeV-EeV neutrino production due to photohadronic interactions with broadline and dust radiation is unavoidable if the AGN inner jets are ultrahigh-energy cosmic-ray (UHECR) sources. Their neutrino spectrum has a cutoff feature around PeV energies since target photons are due to Ly$\alpha$ emission. Read More

Observations performed with the Fermi-LAT telescope have revealed the presence of a spectral break in the GeV spectrum of flat-spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs) and other low- and intermediate-synchrotron peaked blazars. We propose that this feature can be explained by Compton scattering of broad-line region (BLR) photons by a non-thermal population of electrons described by a log-parabolic function. We consider in particular a scenario in which the energy densities of particles, magnetic field, and soft photons in the emitting region are close to equipartition. Read More

Recent data from the \emph{Fermi} Large Area Telescope have revealed about a dozen distant hard-spectrum blazars that have very-high-energy (VHE; $\gtrsim 100$ GeV) photons associated with them, but most of them have not yet been detected by imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes. Most of these high-energy gamma-ray spectra, like those of other extreme high-frequency peaked BL Lac objects, can be well explained either by gamma rays emitted at the source or by cascades induced by ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, as we show specifically for KUV 00311$-$1938. We consider the prospects for detection of the VHE sources by the planned Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) and show how it can distinguish the two scenarios by measuring the integrated flux above $\sim 500$ GeV (depending on source redshift) for several luminous sources with $z \lesssim 1$ in the sample. Read More

Blazar spectral models generally have numerous unconstrained parameters, leading to ambiguous values for physical properties like Doppler factor delta or fluid magnetic field B'. To help remedy this problem, a few modifications of the standard leptonic blazar jet scenario are considered. First, a log-parabola function for the electron distribution is used. Read More

A shock-accelerated particle flux \propto p^-s, where p is the particle momentum, follows from simple theoretical considerations of cosmic-ray acceleration at nonrelativistic shocks followed by rigidity-dependent escape into the Galactic halo. A flux of shock-accelerated cosmic-ray protons with s ~ 2.8 provides an adequate fit to the Fermi-LAT gamma-ray emission spectra of high-latitude and molecular cloud gas when uncertainties in nuclear production models are considered. Read More

The flat spectrum radio quasar (FSRQ) 4C +21.35 (PKS 1222+216) displays prominent nuclear infrared emission from ~1200 K dust. A 70 -- 400 GeV flare with ~10 min variations during half an hour of observations was found by the MAGIC telescopes, and GeV variability was observed on sub-day timescales with the Large Area Telescope on Fermi. Read More

A simple formalism to describe nonthermal electron acceleration, evolution, and radiation in supernova remnants (SNRs) is presented. The electron continuity equation is analytically solved assuming that the nonthermal electron injection power is proportional to the rate at which the kinetic energy of matter swept up in an adiabatically expanding SNR shell. We apply this model to \fermi\ and HESS data from the SNR \rxj, and find that a one-zone leptonic model with Compton-scattered cosmic microwave background (CMB) and interstellar infrared photons has difficulty providing a good fit to its spectral energy distribution, provided the source is at a distance $\sim 1\ \kpc$ from the Earth. Read More

This is a pedagological review of some astrophysical highlights of the Fermi Gamma ray Observatory, including theoretical studies related mainly to extragalactic Fermi science. Read More

Recent Fermi and VERITAS observations of the prototypical Type Ia supernova remnant (SNR) Tycho have discovered gamma-rays with energies E in the range from ~0.4 GeV to 10 TeV. Crucial for the theory of Galactic cosmic-ray origin is whether the gamma-rays from SNRs are produced by accelerated hadrons (protons and ions), or by relativistic electrons. Read More

Some questions raised by Fermi-LAT data about blazars are summarized, along with attempts at solutions within the context of leptonic models. These include both spectral and statistical questions, including the origin of the GeV breaks in low-synchrotron peaked blazars, the location of the gamma-ray emission sites, the correlations in the spectral energy distributions with luminosity, and the difficulty of synchrotron/SSC models to fit the spectra of some TeV blazars. Read More

Lower limits on the power emitted in ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs), which are assumed to be protons with energy 1e17-1e20 eV, are derived for TeV blazars with the assumption that the observed TeV gamma rays are generated due to interactions of these protons with cosmic microwave photons. The limits depend on the spectrum of the injected UHECR protons. While for a -2. Read More

The spectra of BL Lac objects and Fanaroff-Riley I radio galaxies are commonly explained by the one-zone leptonic synchrotron self-Compton (SSC) model. Spectral modeling of correlated multiwavelength data gives the comoving magnetic field strength, the bulk outflow Lorentz factor and the emission region size. Assuming the validity of the SSC model, the Hillas condition shows that only in rare cases can such sources accelerate protons to much above 10^19 eV, so > 10^20 eV ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are likely to be heavy ions if powered by this type of radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGN). Read More

In this paper, we provide exact solutions for the extraction of energy from a rotating black hole via both the electromagnetic Poynting flux and matter currents. By appropriate choice of a radially independent poloidal function $\Lambda(\theta)$, we find solutions where the dominant outward energy flux is along the polar axis, consistent with a jet-like collimated outflow, but also with a weaker flux of energy along the equatorial plane. Unlike all the previously obtained solutions (Blandford & Znajek (1977), Menon & Dermer (2005)), the magnetosphere is free of magnetic monopoles everywhere. Read More

A checklist of criteria is presented to help establish the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs). These criteria are applied to long-duration GRBs in order to determine if they are UHECR sources. The evidence seems to favor blazars and radio galaxies (or other sources) over GRBs. Read More

Recent claims that the strength B_IGMF of the intergalactic magnetic field (IGMF) is >~ 1e-15 G are based on upper limits to the expected cascade flux in the GeV band produced by blazar TeV photons absorbed by the extragalactic background light. This limit depends on an assumption that the mean blazar TeV flux remains constant on timescales >~2 (B_ IGMF/1e-18 G)^2 / (E/{10 GeV})^2 yr for an IGMF coherence length ~ 1 Mpc, where E is the measured photon energy. Restricting TeV activity of 1ES 0229+200 to ~3 -- 4 years during which the source has been observed leads to a more robust lower limit of B_IGMF >~ 1e-18 G, which can be larger by an order of magnitude if the intrinsic source flux above ~5 -- 10 TeV from 1ES 0229+200 is strong. Read More

The impact of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope on blazar research is reviewed. This includes a brief description of the Fermi Large Area Telescope, a summary of the various classes of extragalactic sources found in the First Large Area Telescope AGN Catalog, and more detailed discussion of the flat spectrum radio quasar 3C454.3 and the BL Lac object PKS 2155-304. Read More

Fermi LAT (Large Area Telescope) and GBM (Gamma ray Burst Monitor) observations of GRBs are briefly reviewed, keeping in mind EGRET expectations. Using gamma\gamma constraints on outflow Lorentz factors, leptonic models are pitted against hadronic models, and found to be energetically favored. Interpretation of the Fermi data on GRBs helps establish whether GRBs accelerate cosmic rays, including those reaching $\approx 10^{20}$ eV. Read More

Fermi Gamma ray Space Telescope measurements of spectra, variability time scale, and maximum photon energy give lower limits to the apparent jet powers and, through gammagamma opacity arguments, the bulk Lorentz factors of relativistic jets. The maximum cosmic-ray particle energy is limited by these two quantities in Fermi acceleration scenarios. Recent data are used to constrain the maximum energies of cosmic-ray protons and Fe nuclei accelerated in colliding shells of GRBs and blazars. Read More

Fermi Gamma ray Space Telescope observations of the flat spectrum radio quasar 3C~454.3 show a spectral-index change $\Delta \Gamma \cong 1.2\pm 0. Read More

We investigate the spectral and timing signatures of the internal-shock model for blazars. For this purpose, we develop a semi-analytical model for the time-dependent radiative output from internal shocks arising from colliding relativistic shells in a blazar jet. The emission through synchrotron and synchrotron-self Compton (SSC) radiation as well as Comptonization of an isotropic external radiation field are taken into account. Read More

Bright gamma-ray flares observed from sources far beyond our Galaxy are best explained if enormous amounts of energy are liberated by black holes. The highest-energy particles in nature--the ultra-high energy cosmic rays--cannot be confined by the Milky Way's magnetic field, and must originate from sources outside our Galaxy. Here we summarize the themes of our book, "High Energy Radiation from Black Holes: Gamma Rays, Cosmic Rays, and Neutrinos", just published by Princeton University Press. Read More

Fermi gamma-ray telescope data of GRB 080916C with ~1e55 erg in apparent isotropic gamma-ray energy, show a several second delay between the rise of 100 MeV - GeV radiation compared with keV - MeV radiation. Here we show that synchrotron radiation from cosmic ray protons accelerated in GRBs, delayed by the proton synchrotron cooling timescale in a jet of magnetically-dominated shocked plasma moving at highly relativistic speeds with bulk Lorentz factor Gamma ~ 500, could explain this result. A second generation electron synchrotron component from attenuated proton synchrotron radiation makes enhanced soft X-ray to MeV gamma-ray emission. Read More

The extragalactic background light (EBL) from the far infrared through the visible and extending into the ultraviolet is thought to be dominated by starlight, either through direct emission or through absorption and reradiation by dust. This is the most important energy range for absorbing $\g$-rays from distant sources such as blazars and gamma-ray bursts and producing electron positron pairs. In previous work we presented EBL models in the optical through ultraviolet by consistently taking into account the star formation rate (SFR), initial mass function (IMF) and dust extinction, and treating stars on the main sequence as blackbodies. Read More

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) have long been considered as candidates of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs). We investigate the signatures of CR proton acceleration in the GRBs by consistently taking into account their hadronic and electromagnetic interactions. We discuss the implications of our findings for high-energy gamma ray observations with the recently launched Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Read More

The structural properties of geodesic currents in an ambient Kerr background is studied from an analytical point of view. The geodesics in the congruence correspond to charged particles that carry energy and angular momentum from the black hole through the Blandford-Znajek mechanism. It is shown that the resulting magnetosphere naturally satisfies the Znajek regularity condition. Read More

Protons accelerated in the internal shocks of a long duration gamma ray burst can escape the fireball as cosmic rays by converting to neutrons. Hadronic interactions of these neutrons inside a stellar wind bubble created by the progenitor star will produce TeV gamma rays via neutral meson decay and synchrotron radiation by charged pion-decay electrons in the wind magnetic field. Such gamma rays should be observable from nearby gamma ray bursts by currently running and upcoming ground-based detectors. Read More

Kinematical and luminosity relations for black-hole jet sources are reviewed. If the TeV flares observed from PKS 2155-304 in 2006 July are assumed to originate from a black hole with mass $\approx 10^8 M_8 M_\odot$, then the $\sim 5$ minute variability timescale is consistent with the light-travel time across the Schwarzschild radius of the black hole if $M_8\sim 1$. The absolute jet power in a synchrotron/SSC model exceeds, however, the Eddington luminosity for a black hole with $M_8\sim 1$ unless the jet is highly efficient. Read More

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are a mixed class of sources consisting of, at least, the long duration and short-hard subclasses, the X-ray flashes, and the low-luminosity GRBs. In all cases, the release of enormous amounts of energy on a short timescale makes an energetic, relativistic or mildly relativistic fireball that expands until it reaches a coasting Lorentz factor determined by the amount of baryons mixed into the fireball. Radiation is produced when the blast wave interacts with the surrounding medium at an external shock, or when shell collisions dissipate kinetic energy at internal shocks. Read More

We report the results from our analysis of {\it Suzaku} XIS (0.5-10 keV) and HXD/PIN (15-40 keV) observations of five well-known local ULIRGs: {\em IRAS} F05189-2524, {\em IRAS} F08572+3915, Mrk 273, PKS 1345+12, and Arp 220. The XIS observations of F05189-2524 and Mrk 273 reveal strong iron lines consistent with Fe K$\alpha$ and changes in spectral shapes with respect to previous {\it Chandra} and {\it XMM-Newton} observations. Read More

We extend a method for modeling synchrotron and synchrotron self-Compton radiations in blazar jets to include external Compton processes. The basic model assumption is that the blazar radio through soft X-ray flux is nonthermal synchrotron radiation emitted by isotropically-distributed electrons in the randomly directed magnetic field of outflowing relativistic blazar jet plasma. Thus the electron distribution is given by the synchrotron spectrum, depending only on the Doppler factor $\delta_{\rm D}$ and mean magnetic field $B$, given that the comoving emission region size scale $R_b^\prime \lesssim c \dD t_v/(1+z)$, where $t_v$ is variability time and $z$ is source redshift. Read More


Ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) accelerated in the jets of active galactic nuclei can accumulate in high magnetic field, ~100 kpc-scale regions surrounding powerful radio galaxies. Photohadronic processes involving UHECRs and photons of the extragalactic background light make ultra-relativistic electrons and positrons that initiate electromagnetic cascades, leading to the production of a gamma-ray synchrotron halo. We calculate the halo emission in the case of Cygnus A and show that it should be detectable with the Fermi Gamma ray Space Telescope and possibly detectable with ground-based gamma-ray telescopes if radio galaxies are the sources of UHECRs. Read More

TeV gamma rays from distant astrophysical sources are attenuated due to electron-positron pair creation by interacting with ultraviolet/optical to infrared photons which fill the universe and are collectively known as the extra-galactic background light (EBL). We model the ~0.1-10 eV starlight component of the EBL derived from expressions for the stellar initial mass function, star formation history of the universe, and wavelength-dependent absorption of a large sample of galaxies in the local universe. Read More

Results of a phenomenological model to estimate the GRB detection rate by the Fermi Gamma ray Space Telescope are reported. This estimate is based on the BATSE 4B GRB fluence distribution, the mean ratio of fluences measured at 100 MeV - 5 GeV with EGRET and at 20 keV - 2 MeV with BATSE, and the mean EGRET GRB spectrum for the 5 EGRET spark-chamber GRBs. For a 10% fluence ratio and a number spectral index alpha_1 = -2 at 100 MeV - 5 GeV energies, we estimate a rate of ~ 20 and 4 GRBs per yr in the Fermi Large Area Telescope field of view with at least 5 photons with energy E > 100 MeV and E > 1 GeV, respectively. Read More

Observations of very-high-energy (VHE, E > 250 GeV) gamma-ray emission from several blazars at z > 0.1 have placed stringent constraints on the elusive spectrum and intensity of the intergalactic infrared background radiation (IIBR). Correcting their observed VHE spectrum for gamma-gamma absorption even by the lowest plausible level of the IIBR provided evidence for a very hard (photon spectral index Gamma_{ph} < 2) intrinsic source spectrum out to TeV energies. Read More


Auger results on clustering of > 60 EeV ultra-high energy cosmic ray (UHECR) ions and the interpretation of the gamma-ray spectra of TeV blazars are connected by effects from the extragalactic background light (EBL). The EBL acts as an obscuring medium for gamma rays and a reprocessing medium for UHECR ions and protons, causing the GZK cutoff. The study of the physics underlying the coincidence between the GZK energy and the clustering energy of UHECR ions favors a composition of > 60 EeV UHECRs in CNO group nucleons. Read More

We introduce a methodology for analysis of multiwavelength data from X-ray selected BL Lac (XBL) objects detected in the TeV regime. By assuming that the radio--through--X-ray flux from XBLs is nonthermal synchrotron radiation emitted by isotropically-distributed electrons in the randomly oriented magnetic field of a relativistic blazar jet, we obtain the electron spectrum. This spectrum is then used to deduce the synchrotron self-Compton (SSC) spectrum as a function of the Doppler factor, magnetic field, and variability timescale. Read More

Results of a leptonic jet model for the prompt emission and early afterglows of GRBs are presented. The synchrotron component is modeled with the canonical Band spectrum and the synchrotron self-Compton component is calculated from the implied synchrotron-emitting electron spectrum in a relativistic plasma blob. In the comoving frame the magnetic field is assumed to be tangled and the electron and photon distributions are assumed to be isotropic. Read More

The discoveries of the GZK cutoff with the HiRes and Auger Observatories and the discovery by Auger of clustering of >~60 EeV ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) towards nearby <~75 Mpc) AGNs along the supergalactic plane establishes the astrophysical origin of the UHECRs. The likely sources of the UHECRs are gamma-ray bursts and radio-loud AGNs because: (1) they are extragalactic; (2) they are sufficiently powerful; (3) acceleration to ultra-high energies can be achieved in their relativistic ejecta; (4) anomalous X-ray and gamma-ray features can be explained by nonthermal hadron acceleration in relativistic blast waves; and (5) sources reside within the GZK radius. Two arguments for acceleration to UHE are presented, and limits on UHECR ion acceleration are set. Read More


One way to understand the nonthermal history of the universe is by establishing the origins of the unresolved and truly diffuse extragalactic gamma rays. Dim blazars and radio/gamma galaxies certainly make an important contribution to the galactic gamma-ray background given the EGRET discoveries, and previous treatments are reviewed and compared with a new analysis. Studies of the gamma-ray intensity from cosmic rays in star-forming galaxies and from structure formation shocks, as well as from dim GRBs, are briefly reviewed. Read More

We summarize our model for long-duration gamma ray bursts (GRBs) that fits the redshift (z) distributions measured with Swift and missions before Swift, and the pre-Swift GRB jet opening-angle distribution inferred from achromatic breaks in the optical light curves. We find that the comoving rate density of GRB sources exhibits positive evolution to $z \gtrsim 3$ -- 5, whereas the star formation rate inferred from measurements of the blue and UV luminosity density peaks at $z\sim 1$ -- 3. The mean intrinsic beaming factor of GRBs is found to be $\approx 34$ -- 42, and we predict that the mean GRB optical jet opening half-angle measured with Swift is $\approx 10^\circ$. Read More

An analysis of the interaction between a spherical relativistic blast-wave shell and a stationary cloud with a spherical cap geometry is performed assuming that the cloud width << x, where x is the distance of the cloud from the GRB explosion center. The interaction is divided into three phases: (1) a collision phase with both forward and reverse shocks; (2) a penetration phase when either the reverse shock has crossed the shell while the forward shock continues to cross the cloud, or vice versa; and (3) an expansion phase when, both shocks having crossed the cloud and shell, the shocked fluid expands. Temporally evolving spectral energy distributions (SEDs) are calculated for the problem of the interaction of a blast-wave shell with clouds that subtend large and small angles compared with the Doppler(-cone) angle 1/Gamma_0, where Gamma_0 is the coasting Lorentz factor. Read More

Highly variable gamma-ray pulses and X-ray flares in GRB light curves can result from external shocks rather than central engine activity under the assumption that the GRB blast-wave shell does not spread. Acceleration of cosmic rays to 10^{20} eV energies can take place in the external shocks of GRBs. Escape of hadronic energy in the form of UHECRs leads to a rapidly decelerating GRB blast wave, which may account for the rapid X-ray declines observed in Swift GRBs. Read More