The physics of positron annihilation in the solar atmosphere

R. J. Murphy*, G. H. Share, J. G. Skibo, B. Kozlovsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compile the most recently measured and calculated cross sections for processes relevant to annihilation of positrons in solar flares and present the final evaluated cross sections. We calculate the 511 keV annihilation line spectrum, the number of 2γ line photons produced per positron, and the relative strength of the 3γ continuum for each of the annihilation processes, using a Monte Carlo code that simulates the thermalization of and positronium production by ∼MeV positrons. We calculate the thermally averaged annihilation and positronium production rates and the positronium quenching rates. We apply the results to four specific environments (fully ionized, neutral, partially ionized, and a non-local thermodynamic equilibrium model of the quiet solar atmosphere), calculating the relative strengths of each process and the combined total annihilation line spectrum. The results are compared with data obtained recently from the high spectral resolution detectors of RHESSI. We find that positron annihilation in solar flares can occur in a wide variety of environments. The cross sections presented here are also useful for evaluation of positron annihilation in other environments such as the interstellar medium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-519
Number of pages25
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Atomic processes
  • Line: formation
  • Sun: X-rays, gamma rays
  • Sun: flares


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