The instrumental line background of the Compton telescope COMPTEL onboard the
Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory is due to the activation and/or decay of many
isotopes. The major components of this background can be attributed to eight
individual isotopes, namely 2D, 22Na, 24Na, 28Al, 40K, 52Mn, 57Ni, and 208Tl.
The identification of instrumental lines with specific isotopes is based on the
line energies as well as on the variation of the event rate with time,
cosmic-ray intensity, and deposited radiation dose during passages through the
South-Atlantic Anomaly. The characteristic variation of the event rate due to a
specific isotope depends on its life-time, orbital parameters such as the
altitude of the satellite above Earth, and the solar cycle. A detailed
understanding of the background contributions from instrumental lines is
crucial at MeV energies for measuring the cosmic diffuse gamma-ray background
and for observing gamma-ray line emission in the interstellar medium or from
supernovae and their remnants. Procedures to determine the event rate from each
background isotope are described, and their average activity in spacecraft
materials over the first seven years of the mission is estimated.