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Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays Come From Outside The Milky Way

Travelling with a speed of lights, cosmic rays are atomic nuclei. Scientist says that high energy cosmic rays coming from outer space are hitting the earth.

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Cosmic rays
Source: Pixaby

New York, September 24, 2017: Researchers have found that some ultra-high energy cosmic rays that occasionally hit Earth come from a distant source outside the Milky Way.

Cosmic rays are atomic nuclei that travel through space at speeds close to that of light. Low-energy cosmic rays come from the Sun or from our own galaxy, but the origin of the highest-energy particles has been the subject of debate ever since they were first discovered fifty years ago.

Do they come from our Galaxy or from distant extragalactic objects?

The study published in the journal Science demonstrated that those cosmic rays with energies a million times greater than that of the protons accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator – come from much further away than from our own galaxy.

They were detected from 2004 to 2016 at the largest cosmic ray observatory ever built, the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina.

“We are now considerably closer to solving the mystery of where and how these extraordinary particles are created — a question of great interest to astrophysicists,” said Karl-Heinz Kampert from University of Wuppertal in Germany.

“Our observation provides compelling evidence that the sites of acceleration are outside the Milky Way,” Kampert who is spokesperson for the Auger Collaboration, which involves more than 400 scientists from 18 countries, said.

Cosmic rays are the nuclei of elements from hydrogen to iron. The highest-energy cosmic rays, those of interest in this study, only strike about once per square kilometre per year — equivalent to hitting the area of a soccer field about once per century.

Such rare particles are detectable because they create showers of secondary particles — including electrons, photons and muons – as they interact with the nuclei in the atmosphere.

These cosmic ray showers spread out, sweeping through the atmosphere at the speed of light in a disc-like structure, like a dinner plate but several kilometres in diameter.

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At the Auger Observatory, the shower particles are detected through the light they produce in several of 1,600 detectors, spread over 3,000 square kilometres of western Argentina and each containing 12 tons of water.

Tracking these arrivals tells scientists the direction from which the cosmic rays came.

After racking up detections of more than 30,000 cosmic particles, the scientists found one section of the sky was producing significantly more than its share.

The probability of this happening by a random fluctuation is extremely small, the scientists said — a chance of about two in ten million.

“This result unequivocally establishes that ultra-high energy cosmic rays are not just random wanderers of our nearby universe,” Paolo Privitera of University of Chicago who heads the US groups participating in the project, said. (IANS)

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NASA Selects Proposals For Four new Missions Related To Cosmic Explosions

Excluding the cost of launch, SMEX mission costs are capped at $145 million each, and MO costs are capped at $75 million each

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NASA
Following detailed evaluations, NASA intends to select two proposals in 2021 to be the next astrophysics missions under the agency's Explorers Programme. Wikimedia Commons

NASA has selected proposals for four missions that would study cosmic explosions and the debris they leave behind, as well as monitor how nearby stellar flares may affect the atmospheres of orbiting planets.

Following detailed evaluations, NASA intends to select two proposals in 2021 to be the next astrophysics missions under the agency’s Explorers Programme.

The selected missions will be targeted for launch in 2025, the US space agency said on Monday.

“These promising proposals under the Explorers Program bring out some of the most creative, innovative ways to help uncover the secrets of the universe,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

“From studying stars and planets outside our solar system to seeking answers to the largest cosmic mysteries, I look forward to the breakthrough science from these modest size missions,” Zurbuchen said.

Earth, Globe, Atmosphere, Clouds, Sky, Space Shuttle
NASA has selected proposals for four missions that would study cosmic explosions and the debris they leave behind, as well as monitor how nearby stellar flares may affect the atmospheres of orbiting planets. Pixabay

Two astrophysics Small Explorer (SMEX) missions and two Missions of Opportunity (MO) proposals were competitively selected, based on potential science value and feasibility of development plans.

Excluding the cost of launch, SMEX mission costs are capped at $145 million each, and MO costs are capped at $75 million each.

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Each SMEX proposal will receive $2 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study. (IANS)

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Chinese Researchers Spot Monster Black Hole Bigger Than Sun

Chinese team spots monster black hole which is 70 times bigger than Sun

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Black Hole
A team of Chinese scientists spotted a black hole that is 70 times larger than the sun. (Representational Image Only). Wikimedia Commons

A team led by Chinese researchers has spotted a monster black hole with a mass 70 times greater than Sun — toppling the earlier assumption that the mass of an individual black hole in our Galaxy is no more than 20 times that of Sun.

Our Milky Way Galaxy is estimated to contain 100 million stellar black holes — cosmic bodies formed by the collapse of massive stars and so dense even light can’t escape.

The team, headed by Professor LIU Jifeng of the National Astronomical Observatory of China of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), spotted a stellar black hole with a mass 70 times greater than the Sun.

The monster black hole is located 15 thousand light-years from Earth and has been named “LB-1” by the researchers in a paper reported in the journal Nature.

“Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our Galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution,” said LIU.

“We thought that very massive stars with the chemical composition typical of our Galaxy must shed most of their gas in powerful stellar winds, as they approach the end of their life. Therefore, they should not leave behind such a massive remnant,” he explained.

Spotting black hole
The monster black hole is located 15 thousand light-years from Earth. (Representational Image Only). Wikimedia Commons

Until just a few years ago, stellar black holes could only be discovered when they gobbled up gas from a companion star.

The vast majority of stellar black holes in our Galaxy are not engaged in a cosmic banquet, though, and thus don’t emit revealing X-rays.

As a result, only about two dozen Galactic stellar black holes have been well identified and measured.

To counter this limitation, LIU and collaborators surveyed the sky with China’s Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST).

After the initial discovery, the world’s largest optical telescopes – Spain’s 10.4-m Gran Telescopio Canarias and the 10-m Keck I telescope in the US – were used to determine the system’s physical parameters.
The results were nothing short of fantastic: a star eight times heavier than the Sun was seen orbiting a 70-solar-mass black hole, every 79 days.

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The direct sighting of LB-1 proves that this population of over-massive stellar black holes exists even in our own backyard.

“This discovery forces us to re-examine our models of how stellar-mass black holes form,” said LIGO Director Professor David Reitze from University of Florida in the US. (IANS)

One response to “Chinese Researchers Spot Monster Black Hole Bigger Than Sun”

  1. The designer of this awe-inspiring universe has many many surprises ‘up his sleeve.’ Scientists will yet discover more and more amazing revelations as they research and study our unfathomable ‘miracle’ called the universe. The ancient scriptures says: Look! These are just the fringes of his ways;Only a faint whisper has been heard of him! So who can understand his mighty thunder?”

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Most Precise Map to Date of Milky Way Reveals Warped, Twisted Galaxy

The researchers on Thursday unveiled a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way — home to more than 100 billion stars

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Map, Milky Way, Galaxy
The warped shape of the stellar disk of the Milky Way is seen over the Warsaw University Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile, in an artist's rendition, Aug. 1, 2019. (Jan Skowron/University of Warsaw). VOA

Astronomers have created the most precise map to date of the Milky Way by tracking thousands of big pulsating stars spread throughout the galaxy, demonstrating that its disk of myriad stars is not flat but dramatically warped and twisted in shape.

The researchers on Thursday unveiled a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way — home to more than 100 billion stars including our sun — providing a comprehensive chart of its structure: a stellar disk comprised of four major spiral arms and a bar-shaped core region.

“For the first time, our whole galaxy — from edge to edge of the disk — was mapped using real, precise distances,” said University of Warsaw astronomer Andrzej Udalski, co-author of the study published in the journal Science.

Until now, the understanding of the galaxy’s shape had been based upon indirect measurements of celestial landmarks within the Milky Way and inferences from structures observed in other galaxies populating the universe. The new map was formulated using precise measurements of the distance from the sun to 2,400 stars called “Cepheid variables” scattered throughout the galaxy.

Map, Milky Way, Galaxy
Astronomers have created the most precise map to date of the Milky Way by tracking thousands of big pulsating stars spread throughout the galaxy. Pixabay

“Cepheids are ideal to study the Milky Way for several reasons,” added University of Warsaw astronomer and study co-author Dorota Skowron. “Cepheid variables are bright supergiant stars and they are 100 to 10,000 times more luminous than the sun, so we can detect them on the outskirts of our galaxy. They are relatively young — younger than 400 million years — so we can find them near their birthplaces.”

The astronomers tracked the Cepheids using the Warsaw Telescope located in the Chilean Andes. These stars pulsate at regular intervals and can be seen through the galaxy’s immense clouds of interstellar dust that can make dimmer stellar bodies hard to spot.

The map showed that the galaxy’s disk, far from flat, is significantly warped and varies in thickness from place to place, with increasing thickness measured further from the galactic center. The disk boasts a diameter of about 140,00 light years. Each light year is about 6 trillion miles (9 trillion km).

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The Milky Way began to form relatively soon after the Big Bang explosion that marked the beginning of the universe some 13.8 billion years ago. The sun, located roughly 26,000 light years from the supermassive black hole residing at the center of the galaxy, formed about 4.5 billion years ago. (VOA)