Chandra image of Tycho
Credit: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Warren & J.Hughes et al.

Cosmic Ray Bloom

Subatomic particles moving at near the speed of light permeate the Universe. The origin of these cosmic rays have been a mystery since their discovery in 1912 by Victor Hess. What powers these amazing bullets? Astronomers believe that very powerful star explosions, supernovae, could provide enough energy to power them, and now the Chandra X-ray Observatory is helping to add some color to this picture. The image above is an X-ray "color image" of the Tycho supernova remnant. The colors represent the type of X-radiation being emitted by the supernova. Red and green representing the multi-million degree shocked gas produced by the explosion. The blue filaments show a rapidly expanding shell of extremely high energy electrons. The blue region should be much farther from the red-green gas, so evidently some of the energy from the blue region is being diverted somewhere, most likely into cosmic ray acceleration.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:24:07 EDT