Cosmos Mystery: Telescope Array Detects Ultra-High Energy Extraterrestrial Particles With No Obvious Source

Artist’s illustration of an extremely powerful cosmic ray observed by a surface detector array in the Telescope Array experiment, named the “Amaterasu particle.” Credit: Osaka Metropolitan University/L-INSIGHT, Kyoto University/Ryuunosuke Takeshige

A groundbreaking detection of an extremely powerful cosmic ray by the Telescope Array experiment raises questions about its source, as it points to a cosmic void, challenging existing theories of cosmic ray origin and high-energy physics.

Discovery of a Unique Extraterrestrial Particle

Researchers involved in the Telescope Array experiment have announced the detection of an extremely powerful cosmic ray. This particle, originating from beyond our galaxy, has an impressive energy level of over 240 exa-electron volts (EeV). Despite this remarkable discovery, its exact source remains elusive, as the direction of its arrival does not point to any known astronomical entities.

The Mystery of Ultrahigh-Energy Cosmic Rays

Cosmic rays are subatomic charged particles from space, of which Ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are a rare and extraordinarily powerful type. These UHECRs have energies above 1 EeV, which is almost a million times higher than the energy reached by man-made particle accelerators. It is believed to originate from the most energetic events in the Universe, such as those involving black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and active galactic nuclei. Their exact physics and acceleration mechanisms, however, are still not fully understood. The rare nature of these high-energy cosmic rays – estimated at less than one particle per century per square kilometer – makes their detection a rare event, requiring instruments with large collection areas.

Ultra-High-Energy Cosmic Ray Astronomy

Artist’s illustration of ultra-high-energy cosmic ray astronomy to clarify extremely powerful events in contrast to weaker cosmic rays affected by electromagnetic fields. Credit: Osaka Metropolitan University/Kyoto University/Ryuunosuke Takeshige

Spectacular Telescope Array Discovery

The Telescope Array (TA) experiment, a large-scale surface detector array in Utah with an effective detection area of ​​700 square kilometers, successfully detected a UHECR with a groundbreaking energy of approximately 244 EeV on May 27 , 2021.

Due to the extremely high energy of the particle, the researchers noted that it should only experience relatively small deflections in the foreground magnetic field, and thus, the direction of its arrival should be expected to be more closely related to related to its origin. However, the findings show that its direction of arrival does not indicate a clear source galaxy, or any other known astronomical objects that are believed to be potential sources of UHECRs.

Instead, the direction of its arrival points back to the void of the large structure of the Universe – a region where very few galaxies reside. Scientists suggest that this may indicate a larger magnetic deflection than predicted by models of the galactic magnetic field, an unknown source in the local extragalactic neighborhood, or an incomplete understanding of the companion. high-energy particle physics.

For more on this discovery:

Reference: “An extremely powerful cosmic ray detected by a surface detector array” in Telescope Array Collaboration*†, RU Abbasi, MG Allen, R. Arimura, JW Belz, DR Bergman, SA Blake, BK Shin, IJ Buckland, BG Cheon, T. Fujii, K. Fujisue, K. Fujita, M. Fukushima, GD Furlich, ZR Gerber, N. Globus, K. Hibino, R. Higuchi, K. Honda, D. Ikeda, H. Ito , A. Iwasaki, S. Jeong, HM Jeong, CH Jui, K. Kadota, F. Kakimoto, OE Kalashev, K. Kasahara, K. Kawata, I. Kharuk, E. Kido, SW Kim, HB Kim, JH Kim , JH Kim, I Komae, Y. Kubota, MY Kuznetsov, KH Lee, BK Lubsandorzhiev, JP Lundquist, JN Matthews, S. Nagataki, T. Nakamura, A. Nakazawa, T. Nonaka, S. Ogio, M. Ono, H. Oshima, IH Park, M. Potts, S. Pshirkov, JR Remington, DC Rodriguez, C. Rott, GI Rubtsov, D. Ryu, H. Sagawa, N. Sakaki, T. Sako, N. Sakurai, H. Shin, JD Smith , P. Sokolsky, BT Stokes, TS Stroman, K. Takahashi, M. Takeda, A. Taketa, Y. Tameda, S. Thomas, GB Thomson, PG Tinyakov, I. Tkachev, T. Tomida, SV Troitsky, Y. Tsunesada, S. Udo, FR Urban, T. Wong, K. Yamazaki, Y. Yuma, YV Zhezher and Z. Zundel, 23 November 2023, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abo5095

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