Astronomers at a Tibetan Observatory have discovered the brightest, most energetic gamma ray particle ever. The detected particles that originated in our galaxy, carried an energy of over 1.4 Peta Electron Volts- 1000 trillion times more energetic than sunlight!
Astronomers used the LHAASO (Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory), an observatory made up of a huge collection of detectors that span an area of more than 1 square kilometer. The detectors are located 4410 meters above sea level on the Haizi Mountain in the Sichuan Province.
Cosmic Rays and PeVatrons:
The High Energy particles that were recently discovered are often referred to as Cosmic Rays. These powerful rays are emitted during violent astronomical events like Supernovae- the death event of massive stars. Supernovae throw out the outer layers of the star into space at speeds close to the speed of light.
But astronomers have a hard time trying to find and understand their origin. A report in the Science Magazine said this- ” Their sources are poorly understood because interstellar magnetic fields bend them on their path to Earth. However, as cosmic rays rocket away from their sources, they also emit photons, usually about one-tenth as energetic as the cosmic rays themselves, that follow a straight path to Earth”.
Astronomers say that the photons may have been emitted by a more powerful particle- upto 10 times more.
Astronomers also said that the extension of the cosmic-ray spectrum beyond 1 Pev indicates the existence of PeVatrons- cosmic-ray factories that accelerate particles to PeV energies!
Discovery of PeVatrons may be bring a change in our knowledge and understanding of the universe.