Cosmic Rays Originate as the Result of Star Explosion: Astronomers

Astronomers discovered that the cosmic rays originates as the aftermath of the Star Explosion, about a hundred years after Victor Hess discovered these rays.

Created On: Feb 18, 2013 18:23 ISTModified On: Feb 19, 2013 11:47 IST

astronomersThe astronomers in the second week of February 2013 discovered the proof that cosmic rays originate as the results of explosions of stars or supernova, these are termed as the most energetic event in the galaxy. Cosmic Rays were first discovered in 1912 by Victor Hess and it was believed that these highly energetic particles that keep on hitting the atmosphere of earth from all directions originate with the explosion of stars, but till now no direct evidence for the same conclusion was available to the mankind.  

The astronomers were successful in reaching to the conclusion as the findings of two experiments one ground-based and the other one that was space-based, provided the same evidence, after looking on different Supernova Remnants (SNRs) in the sky. The observations were made on different perspectives and in different parts of the sky.

The first study is based on the observations made by the astronomers from Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg of the remnants of a 1000 year old supernova SN1006 from the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) based in Chile.

The second study was based on the years of data collected from the 10000 year old SNRs IC443 that is located in Gemini Constellation at a distance of about 5000 light years from earth and W44 that is located in Aquila Constellation at a distance of 10000 light years. The data of the two SNRs were collected by the scientists of Kavli Institute for Particle Physics and Cosmology at the SLAC National Accelerator laboratory by using NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope that was launched in June 2008.

A supernova occurs twice or thrice in a century and it happens with the massive explosion of a star. The core of the exploded star remains as a neutron star or a black hole, whereas the parts ejected due to explosion flows in the space in form of debris by a powerful shockwave. The remnants of the explosion remains in the sky for thousands of years and are used by the scientists and astronomers to study the facts about the cosmic rays.

Cosmic rays consist of about 90 percent proton, a nuclei and electrons. The two experiments done in space and ground claimed that evidence were found that protons that the protons accelerated to the speed of light after being ejected due to shockwaves of the supernova. The mechanism was proposed by Enrico Fermi in 1949 and it stated that the protons, which are trapped in the fast moving shock region due to magnetic fields travelling through the shock front boosts itself to high speeds after repeatedly being reflected in the magnetic field.

The protons gain energy of about one percent with every round trip and after making several hundreds of such trips; it travels at the speed of light and finally releases itself from the shockwave front. These charged protons, get it drifted due to the magnetic field that it experiences on its way to earth resulting in distortion of its path. This is a reason that one can’t decidedly say that the SNRs produce cosmic rays.

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