Origin of ultra-high-energy galactic cosmic rays: The isotropy problem

Martin Pohl, David Eichler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We study the propagation of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) in the Galaxy, concentrating on the energy range below the ankle in the spectrum at 4 EeV. A Monte Carlo method, based on analytical solutions to the time-dependent diffusion problem, is used to account for intermittency by placing sources at random locations. Assuming a source population that scales with baryon mass density or star formation (e.g., long GRB), we derive constraints arising from intermittency and the observational limits on the composition and anisotropy. It is shown that the composition and anisotropy at 1018 eV are difficult to reproduce and require that either (1) the particle mean free path is much smaller than a gyroradius, implying the escape time is very long, (2) the composition is heavier than suggested by recent Auger data, (3) the ultra-high-energy sub-ankle component is mostly extragalactic, or (4) we are living in a rare lull in the UHECR production, and the current UHECR intensity is far below the Galactic time average. We therefore recommend a strong observational focus on determining the UHECR composition around 1018 eV.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • cosmic rays
  • gamma-ray burst: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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