While previously, researchers were not sure as to what was producing these unknown cosmic rays, a group of scientists believe they finally found out the culprit behind them.
“These results represent the first indications of where the Milky Way’s highest energy cosmic rays could come from,” says Associate Professor Gavin Rowell, from the University of Adelaide’s High Energy Astrophysics Group and leader of Australia’s participation in the HESS Collaboration.
“The most plausible ‘engine’ for this cosmic ray acceleration is the super-massive black hole right at the heart of our galaxy.”
According to a group of researchers, a number of ‘alien’ rays from outer space are hitting our planet. The group of researchers believes that the enigmatic rays are coming from a super-massive black hole which is located at the center of our galaxy. The supermassive black hole is believed to have the size of 4-5 million suns according to reports from German and Australian scientists.
The supermassive black hole is believed to be so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape is crushing clutch.
“The black hole’s gravity of course attracts lots of matter to it,” said Adelaide University astrophysicist Dr Gavin Rowell. “As the matter approaches the black hole, it spirals around, like water going down a plughole, and speeds up.”
According to reports recently published in the Journal Nature, the high energy cosmic rays which are comprised of charged atomic nuclei like protons, are accelerating from the center of the milky way towards us. While in the past, researchers were not sure where these enigmatic rays originated from, a new study has shown that Sagittarius A*, as the black hole has been called, is the sole responsible body, and not the remnants of dead stars as researchers speculated in previous theories.
Scientists believe that as it speeds up, matter becomes very energetic and hot which creates the ideal conditions to release and accelerate charged particles or cosmic rays.
“This is quite a theoretical area of physics but is generally well accepted as a very powerful process to accelerate particles,” Dr Rowell said. Other examples of this are sometimes observed near smaller black holes orbited by single stars.
“Cosmic rays account for up to half of the natural ionising radiation we experience in our lives,” said Dr Rowell, whose team observed coming from the Milky Way’s centre a series of gamma rays, a penetrating form of radiation and a “tracer” of cosmic rays.
“Based on the gamma rays, we found that the cosmic rays are packed with the highest energy that our galaxy is thought to produce,” he said.
“The most striking aspect is that the gamma ray emission properties tell us that they come from a source of cosmic rays with energies reaching 100 times higher than that of the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Switzerland,” added Rowell.