Apr 2, 2021

Surprising Evidence for PeVatrons, the Milky Way’s Most Powerful Particle Accelerators

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics, space

The Tibet ASγ experiment, a China-Japan joint research project on cosmic-ray observation, has discovered ultra-high-energy diffuse gamma rays from the Milky Way galaxy. The highest energy detected is estimated to be unprecedentedly high, nearly 1 Peta electronvolts (PeV, or one million billion eV).

Surprisingly, these gamma rays do not point back to known high-energy gamma-ray sources, but are spread out across the Milky Way (see Figure 1).

Scientists believe these gamma rays are produced by the nuclear interaction between cosmic rays escaping from the most powerful galactic sources (“PeVatrons”) and interstellar gas in the Milky Way galaxy. This observational evidence marks an important milestone in revealing the origin of cosmic rays, which has puzzled mankind for more than a century.

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