What Are Cosmic Rays? #SpaceSaturday

Conventional wisdom tells us that cosmic rays can transform a scientist, his lady friend, a pilot, and the lady friend’s hot-headed brother into a super-powered family that, when written and drawn with genre-redefining realism and eye to emotional detail, can create an entirely new way of telling super-hero stories. But conventional wisdom also tells us that cosmic rays are generated by powerful supernova blasts. One of those two statements may well be untrue. And it isn’t the one about the Fantastic Four. Here’s more from Astronomy Now:

As it turns out, supernovae, which do indeed generate high-energy gamma rays, are not powerful enough to explain the petaelectronvolt (PeV) energies observed with the most extreme cosmic ray events. Instead of supernovae, new research suggests, star clusters featuring closely packed type O and type B stars are responsible, acting as so-called PeVatron accelerators.

“Cosmic rays below PeV energy are believed to come from our galaxy, but the question is what are the accelerators that can produce them?” said team leader Petra Huentemeyer, professor of physics at Michigan Technological University.

See more!


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