Nature Publishing Group
Gamma-rays from radioactive 26Al (half life ~7.2 105 yr) provide a 'snapshot' view of ongoing nucleosynthesis in the Galaxy1. The Galaxy is relatively transparent to such gamma-rays, and emission has been found concentrated along the plane of the Galaxy2. This led to the conclusion1 that massive stars throughout the Galaxy dominate the production of 26Al. On the other hand, meteoritic data show locally-produced 26Al, perhaps from spallation reactions in the protosolar disk. Furthermore, prominent gamma-ray emission from the Cygnus region2,3 suggests that a substantial fraction of Galactic 26Al could originate in localized star-forming regions. Here we report high spectral resolution measurements of 26Al emission at 1808.65 keV, which demonstrate that the 26Al source regions corotate with the Galaxy, supporting its Galaxy-wide origin. We determine a present-day equilibrium mass of 2.8 (±0.8) M of 26Al. We use this to estimate that the frequency of core collapse (i.e. type Ib/c and type II) supernovae to be 1.9(± 1.1) events per century.
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