Extravagant superbubbles might be sending cosmic rays to Earth

We might know the origin of cosmic rays on Earth.


Astronomers have recently discovered a new phenomenon which has altered the perception we had about ultra-energetic particles. These scientists have identified two "superbubbles," which are around a thousand light-years away and are formed by a lighter gas which is suspended inside a heavier one.

Extravagant superbubbles might be sending cosmic rays to Earth


It is believed that these bubbles were formed by a supermassive black hole which provided the burst of energy, or possibly from the winds caused by young stars. The superbubbles are located in the galaxy NGC 3079 which is 67 million light years away from our planet. The bigger bubble of the two is 4,900 light-years across, which for reference is nearly 30 quadrillion miles.

The astronomers used data from both the Chandra Observatory and the Hubble telescope. The X-rays, ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light data were monitored to study these superbubbles.

Apart from proving the beautiful imagery, these superbubbles also act as natural particle collider at their rims creating unusual and very energetic particles. When the outer edge of the bubbles meets the gas around them, a huge shock wave is generated which could churn out cosmic rays that have been detected on earth.

"Shock waves associated with exploding stars can accelerate particles up to energies about 100 times larger than those generated in the Large Hadron Collider," lead author Dr. Jiang-Tao Li explained to Sci-News. "The outer regions of the superbubbles in NGC 3079 generate shock waves as they expand and collide with surrounding gas ... When the particles cross the shock front they are accelerated, as if they received a kick from a pinball machine's flipper."

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