HESS upper limits for Kepler's supernova remnant

18 January 2010

Aims. Observations of Kepler's supernova remnant (G4.5+6.8) with the HESS telescope array in 2004 and 2005 with a total live time of 13 h are presented. Methods. Stereoscopic imaging of Cherenkov radiation from extensive air showers is used to reconstruct the energy and direction of the incident gamma rays. Results. No evidence for a very high energy (VHE: >100 GeV) gamma-ray signal from the direction of the remnant is found. An upper limit (99% confidence level) on the energy flux in the range $230~{\rm GeV}{-}12.8~{\rm TeV}$ of 8.6 $\times$ $10^{-13}~{\rm erg}~{\rm cm}^{-2}~{\rm s}^{-1}$ is obtained. Conclusions. In the context of an existing theoretical model for the remnant, the lack of a detectable gamma-ray flux implies a distance of at least $6.4~{\rm kpc}$. A corresponding upper limit for the density of the ambient matter of $0.7~{\rm cm}^{-3}$ is derived. With this distance limit, and assuming a spectral index $\Gamma = 2$, the total energy in accelerated protons is limited to $E_{\rm p} < 8.6$ $\times$ $10^{49}~{\rm erg}$. In the synchrotron/inverse Compton framework, extrapolating the power law measured by RXTE between 10 and $20~{\rm keV}$ down in energy, the predicted gamma-ray flux from inverse Compton scattering is below the measured upper limit for magnetic field values greater than $52~\mu {\rm G}$