Where cosmic rays are born

New evidence links origin of these very energetic particles to massive explosions of distant stars

By Sid Perkins, 19:14 PM February 16, 2013

Here we go! Shock waves in the clouds of gas surrounding an exploding star (as in this artist’s depiction) accelerate charged particles called protons to very high speed, creating cosmic rays. Credit: Greg Stewart, SLAC Nat'l Accelerator Lab.

About 100 years ago, researchers discovered a large numbers of very small particles slamming into Earth’s upper atmosphere at high speeds. The mystery particles arrived from all directions. They came from an unknown source apparently outside our solar system. Scientists called them “cosmic rays.”

Now, a century later, a team of scientists has found the origins of most cosmic rays. They are born from clouds of gas surrounding the ancient and massive explosions of distant stars.

About 90 p...

Source URL: https://student.societyforscience.org/article/where-cosmic-rays-are-born