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Propagation of H and He cosmic ray isotopes in the Galaxy: astrophysical and nuclear uncertainties

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Abstract

Observations of light isotopes in cosmic rays provide valuable information on their origin and propagation in the Galaxy. Using the data collected by the AMS-01 experiment in the range ∼0.2–1.5 GeV nucleon−1, we compare the measurements on 1 H, 2 H, 3 He, and 4 He with calculations for interstellar propagation and solar modulation. These data are described well by a diffusive-reacceleration model with parameters that match the B/C ratio data, indicating that He and heavier nuclei such as C–N–O experience similar propagation histories. Close comparisons are made within the astrophysical constraints provided by the B/C ratio data and within the nuclear uncertainties arising from errors in the production cross section data. The astrophysical uncertainties are expected to be dramatically reduced by the data upcoming from AMS-02, so that the nuclear uncertainties will likely represent the most serious limitation on the reliability of the model predictions. On the other hand, we find that secondary-to-secondary ratios such as 2 H/3 He, 6 Li/7 Li or 10 B/11 B are barely sensitive to the key propagation parameters and can represent a useful diagnostic test for the consistency of the calculations.

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Acknowledgements

I thank my many colleagues in AMS for helpful discussions and F. Focacci for her bibliographic support. This work is supported by Agenzia Spaziale Italiana under contract ASI-INFN 075/09/0.

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Correspondence to Nicola Tomassetti.

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Tomassetti, N. Propagation of H and He cosmic ray isotopes in the Galaxy: astrophysical and nuclear uncertainties. Astrophys Space Sci 342, 131–136 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10509-012-1138-y

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Keywords

  • Cosmic rays
  • Acceleration of particles
  • Nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances