The Cosmic-Ray Path Length (Age) Distribution in the Galaxy: Experimental Limits on the Deviation from an Exponential
A systematic examination is presented of the observational effects that can provide information on the departure of the cosmic-ray path length distribution (PLD) for propagation in the Galaxy from a simple exponential distribution. The possible physical causes for this departure are examined in order to set realistic limits on how well a simple exponential PLD actually describes the distribution of sources and propagation of cosmic rays in the galaxy. From the findings, it is argued that the cosmic ray source distribution must be quite uniform, probably on a scale of about 50 pc or less near the sun. Extending this uniformity to the Galaxy as a whole would imply more than 100,000 active sources. The cosmic-ray propagation can be described quite well by a leaky box model which is equivalent to observing the particles through a dense fog.