European Gateway experiment will monitor radiation in deep space

The first science experiments that will be hosted on the Gateway, the international research outpost orbiting the moon, have been selected by ESA and NASA. Europe's contribution will monitor radiation to gain a complete understanding ...

New all-sky search reveals potential neutrino sources

For over a century, scientists have been observing very high-energy charged particles called cosmic rays arriving from outside Earth's atmosphere. The origins of these particles are very difficult to pinpoint because the ...

Galactic cosmic rays affect Titan's atmosphere

Planetary scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) revealed the secrets of the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. The team found a chemical footprint in Titan's atmosphere indicating ...

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Cosmic ray

Cosmic rays are energetic particles originating from outer space that impinge on Earth's atmosphere. Almost 90% of all the incoming cosmic ray particles are protons, almost 10% are helium nuclei (alpha particles), and slightly under 1% are heavier elements and electrons (beta minus particles). The term ray is a misnomer, as cosmic particles arrive individually, not in the form of a ray or beam of particles.

The variety of particle energies reflects the wide variety of sources. The origins of these particles range from energetic processes on the Sun all the way to as yet unknown events in the farthest reaches of the visible universe. Cosmic rays can have energies of over 1020 eV, far higher than the 1012 to 1013 eV that man-made particle accelerators can produce. (See Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays for a description of the detection of a single particle with an energy of about 50 J, the same as a well-hit tennis ball at 42 m/s [about 94 mph].) There has been interest in investigating cosmic rays of even greater energies.

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