Published in Royal Society Open Science, vol. 3, issue 3, p. 150555, 2016.

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Asantha Cooray

Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697

Abstract: This review covers the measurements related to the extragalactic background light (EBL) intensity from gamma-rays to radio in the electromagnetic spectrum over 20 decades in the wavelength. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) remains the best measured spectrum with an accuracy better than 1%. The measurements related to the cosmic optical background (COB), centered at 1 µm, are impacted by the large zodiacal light associated with interplanetary dust in the inner Solar system. The best measurements of COB come from an indirect technique involving Gamma-ray spectra of bright blazars with an absorption feature resulting from pair-production off of COB photons. The cosmic infrared background (CIB) peaking at around 100 µm established an energetically important background with an intensity comparable to the optical background. This discovery paved the path for large aperture far-infrared and sub-millimeter observations resulting in the discovery of dusty, starbursting galaxies. Their role in galaxy formation and evolution remains an active area of research in modern-day astrophysics. The extreme UV background remains mostly unexplored and will be a challenge to measure due to the high Galactic background and absorption of extragalactic photons by the intergalactic medium at these EUV/soft X-ray energies. We also summarize our understanding of the spatial anisotropies and angular power spectra of intensity fluctuations. We motivate a precise direct measurement of the COB between 0.1 to 5 µm using a small aperture telescope observing either from the outer Solar system, at distances of 5 AU or more, or out of the ecliptic plane. Other future applications include improving our understanding of the background at TeV energies and spectral distortions of CMB and CIB.

Keywords : Cosmology, galaxies: galaxy evolution

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