Current status and new perspectives on cosmic ray deuterons
August 25, 2023
Deuterons are the most abundant secondary cosmic ray species in the Galaxy, but their study has been severely limited due to experimental challenges. In an era with new experiments and high-precision measurements in cosmic rays, having a low-uncertainty deuteron flux in a wide energy range becomes possible. The deuteron-over-helium ratio ($d$/$^4$He) is important to understand the propagation of cosmic rays in the Galaxy and in the heliosphere, complementing observations with heavier nuclei like the boron-to-carbon ratio. In this work, the most up-to-date results of the deuteron flux and the $d$/$^4$He ratio at the top of the atmosphere have been obtained using GALPROP and a 3D solar modulation model. It was found that the simulation describes the deuteron flux and $d$/$^4$He data below 1 GeV/$n$ within the uncertainties of the model. However, the model underestimates the best-published measurements available at high energy. This discrepancy suggests different effective diffusions have to be considered between secondary light species like deuterons and heavier nuclei. Either this is a consequence of a break in the universality of propagation between light and heavier nuclei or a lack of precision measurements, it is something AMS-02 will help to resolve in the near future.
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