The new study will help to reveal the nature of cosmic rays




Based on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole, scientists reported some progress in the understanding of the old mysteries of how and where born cosmic rays . Why do we need it? Understanding of the issue will help find a way to protect the astronauts and electronics from cosmic radiation as efficiently as possible.

What is a cosmic ray?

The term “cosmic ray” is a misnomer. In truth, this is not the rays and charged particles, mostly high-energy protons and atomic nuclei that travel through interstellar space at tremendous speed.

We do not know how to accelerate cosmic rays as they pass through space, and know very little about where they are born. Because these particles are charged, their trajectory is changed many times under the influence of the interstellar magnetic field, the particles that meet on the way, which complicates the task of identifying the initial location of the particles.

Cosmic rays are the most high-energy particles in the universe. Some of them are at 300 EeV that forty million times the energy at which particles collide in the Large Hadron Collider, and is approximately equal to the kinetic energy of a tennis ball flying at a speed of 115 km / h
Why do we cosmic rays?

You could argue that the money allocated for the construction of new super telescopes are wasted because the knowledge we give them work, useless to us per se, but in the case of cosmic rays you would be very wrong. Cosmic rays – this is a concern for the aerospace and electronics industry today, and this influence is destined to become even more serious in a few decades – which is why any progress in this area is accepted with open arms.

Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the vast majority of cosmic rays, but outside of our little bubble of space radiation threat is very real. The particles are extremely dangerous because of their extremely high enough energy to break DNA molecules and damage the electronics.

Thanks to recent experiments, we know that people in space unshielded get more exposure to 2.4 per year than we on Earth – from 400 to 900 mSv. Radiation is more than 4 Sv is extremely dangerous and potentially lethal and, therefore, if a short ride on some SpaceShipTwo will be relatively safe, long-term mission to Mars will probably ruin the whole team, or require a reliable means of screening.

As for the electronics, high-energy cosmic rays are able to change bits within integrated circuits and cause intermittent errors. IBM Research has 90s suggest that cosmic rays is one error per 256 MB of RAM per month and the problem will only get worse, as the electronics is becoming smaller and smaller. In 2008, Intel has patented a cosmic ray detector, which can be equipped with the next-generation.

Космические лучи
What have we learned?

The flux of cosmic rays that reach the earth’s surface, can be analyzed and classified in order to find out exactly how he accelerated, and this information can help us to build an effective defense mechanisms.

When high-energy cosmic rays are produced, the event is accompanied by the creation of the neutrino flux and ultrahigh energies. Neutrinos have no charge and almost weightless, and rarely interact with other matter. Which leads to the fact that they move in a straight line, and it is possible to trace their source.

“In the rare cases when neutrinos interact with matter, they produce charged particles,” – said physicist at the University of Delaware Ruzybayev Bakhtiar, author of the study. – “And when the charged particles pass through the transparent medium at a speed faster than the speed of light (in this environment), they emit light. Most of the neutrino detectors are designed to catch the light. ”

Using neutrino detectors, scientists observe the link between energy cosmic rays and their flow (that is, how often they fall in a certain area). The particles that are born in the Milky Way, as a rule, have less energy, but fall more often while high energy particles flying from a distance and they are much harder to fix because they were accelerated for a longer period of time before finally reached Earth.

Космические лучи

Constant acceleration would speak about the simple power law between the flow and energy of the particle (which would look like a straight line on the graph above), but it’s not that simple, and scientists have discovered a curved point, which they call the “knee» (knee). On the left side of the knee particles with low energy, most of which occur in our own galaxy, the right hand – cosmic rays from outside. The second, “ankle» (ankle), the graph shows which includes high-energy particles.

Recent findings by scientists from the University of Delaware show that the situation is even more complicated than it looks. The energy spectrum of cosmic rays does not correspond to the simple law of power between the knee in 4 PeV (petaelektrovolt) and the ankle in 4 EeV (eksaelektronvolt), as previously assumed, and 20 PeV and 130 PeV respectively.

The relationship between the flux and energy was far more difficult than anticipated.

Космические лучи

The chart above illustrates the conclusions that follow from the previous schedule, taking into account research. Acceleration and propagation of cosmic rays adheres to laws that are less predictable than previously thought.

“These measures lead to new restrictions that must be met any models that attempt to explain the acceleration and propagation of cosmic rays” – explained Ruzybayev.

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Tags: universe , cosmic rays , the Milky Way .

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