Cosmic rays help supernovae explosions pack a bigger punch

The final stage of cataclysmic explosions of dying massive stars, called supernovae, could pack an up to six times bigger punch on the surrounding interstellar gas with the help of cosmic rays, according to a new study led ...

The mystery of heavy elements in galactic cosmic rays

Scientists have used data from the Southwest Research Institute-led Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission to explain the presence of energetic heavy elements in galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). GCRs are composed of fast-moving ...

Cosmic ray influences on star formation in galaxies

The triggering of star formation, and also its quenching, is regulated by young massive stars in galaxies which inject energy and momentum into the interstellar medium. Feedback from the supermassive black holes at galaxies' ...

Probing deeper into origins of cosmic rays

Cosmic rays are high-energy atomic particles continually bombarding Earth's surface at nearly the speed of light. Our planet's magnetic field shields the surface from most of the radiation generated by these particles. Still, ...

New detector finds gamma rays from surprising cosmic sources

Astrophysicist Cao Zhen opens a steel hatch on a windswept Tibetan Plateau and climbs down a ladder into inky darkness. His flashlight picks out a boat floating on a pool of purified water above thousands of glittering orbs ...

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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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