Supernova at TeV energies
Credit: HESS Collaboration - image courtesy Werner Hofmann (MPI)

TeraVolt Imaging

Using emission produced by particles traveling faster than the speed of light, ground-based telescopes have produced an historic first image of a supernova at tera-electron volt, or TeV, energies. The High Energy Stereoscopic System, or HESS, project, uses an array of ground-based telescopes (located in Namibia) to record the Cherenkov radiation produced when charged particles from an astrophysical source pass through the atmosphere at speeds faster than that of light in the atmosphere (in the atmosphere light slows down - of course nothing can go faster than the speed of light in vacuum). The image above shows emission produced as TeV photons from the supernova remnant (known as SNR RX J1713.7-3946) enter the atmosphere. Contours on the TeV image show X-ray emission from the SNR, and there's a good correlation between the TeV and X-ray image. The TeV image gives further credence to the idea that supernova remnants are sources of high-energy galactic cosmic rays.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Thursday, 03-May-2012 14:32:54 EDT