NASA Discovers Cosmic Rays from a Mysterious, Nearby Object
NASA: An international team of researchers has discovered a puzzling surplus of high-energy electrons bombarding Earth from space. The source of these cosmic rays is unknown, but it must be close to the solar system and it could be made of dark matter. Their results are being reported in the Nov. 20th issue of the journal Nature (PDF).
“This is a big discovery,” says co-author John Wefel of Louisiana State University. “It’s the first time we’ve seen a discrete source of accelerated cosmic rays standing out from the general galactic background.”
Galactic cosmic rays are subatomic particles accelerated to almost light speed by distant supernova explosions and other violent events. They swarm through the Milky Way, forming a haze of high energy particles that enter the solar system from all directions. Cosmic rays consist mostly of protons and heavier atomic nuclei with a dash of electrons and photons spicing the mix.