Scientists are one step closer to understanding the origins of cosmic rays, the highest-energy particles in the universe

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In new research, scientists at Nagoya University in Japan, they got for the first time quantify the components of protons and electrons from cosmic rays in a supernova remnant.

Recent imaging analysis of radio, X-ray and gamma ray radiation revealed that at least 70% of the very high-energy gamma rays emitted by cosmic rays are due to relativistic protons.

The new study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, helps solve a long-standing mystery about the place of acceleration of protons, the main components of cosmic rays, and represents an important step in determining precisely where cosmic rays come from, the highest-energy particles in the universe, first discovered in 1912.

This is the first time that the amount of cosmic rays produced in a supernova remnant has been quantitatively demonstrated. Cosmic rays are believed to be accelerated by the aftermath of supernova explosions and they travel to Earth almost at the speed of light. Understanding its origin is fundamental to understanding the evolution of our galaxy, since cosmic rays influence the chemical evolution of interstellar matter.

Recent advances in gamma ray observations have revealed that many supernova remnants emit gamma rays to teraelectronvolt energies. If gamma rays are produced by protons, the main component of cosmic rays, the origin of cosmic rays can be verified in supernova remnants.

However, gamma rays are also produced by electrons, so it is necessary to determine whether the origin of the protons or electrons is dominant, and to measure the proportion of both. The results of this study provide convincing evidence that gamma rays originate from the proton component, which is the main component of cosmic rays, and they clarify that galactic cosmic rays are produced by supernova remnants.

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