The Highest Energy Cosmic Rays Are Accelerated By Star Clusters, Not Supernovas

Only a small proportion of cosmic rays reach the PV energies, which is lucky because otherwise we could all be prone to death. Yet, we have evidence of their presence and therefore need to explain them. The extreme conditions left behind by the supernovae were obvious picks, but NASA’s Dr. Henrike Fleischhack said in a statement, “They accelerate the cosmic rays, but they are not able to get the maximum power.”

The Earth’s atmosphere bombarded with radioactive rays known as cosmic rays, the most powerful of which is energy in the petaelectronvolt (PV) range – ten million times more than visible light. Until recently, it thought that these came from supernova remnants, but theoretical modeling has challenged this possible notion, with astronomers chasing individual sources. A new proposal suggests that a star that cannot handle, they can work together. To achieve such extreme energy, the particles need to accelerate sufficiently, and supernova remnants now thought to provide only rapid and short shocks.

A study in natural astronomy has shown signs of gamma ray signals reaching PV energy 5,000 light-years away from the Cygnus OB2 cluster. A large group of authors argues that intense magnetic fields in such clusters produced by multiple stars accelerate protons for a long time until they move towards the speed of light. 

When these relative protons collide with the gas, they emit energy up to PEV. One might say it takes a large gram to make a PV ray. Most of them formed into star clusters when huge clouds of gas collapse. You can observe the process with a backyard telescope directed at the Orion Nebula – although it may take thousands of years, do not expect any major developments in your lifespan. Under the right conditions, many of the stars formed in these clusters are exceptionally hot, bright and short-lived, and the Cygnus OB2 is one of the extreme examples we know of.

In a dust cloud known as the Cygnus Fractal, it prevents us from seeing clearly without X-ray telescopes, but Cygnus OB2 includes enough O and B-type stars to embarrass the more famous star-forming nebulae. Assistant author Binita Hona said, “O stars of the spectral type are the biggest.” “Shock waves are formed when their winds contact each other and this is what causes acceleration.” 

PV rays are difficult to detect. However, high-altitude water Cherenkov (HAWC) can find a source of light in an observatory with a power of up to 200 TV (0.2 PV), although it still has to do so indirectly. When such powerful rays hit the Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a stream of secondary rays. “We use particle charge and time information to reconstruct data from elementary gamma, “Doctoral student Daisy Huang. The giant stars that produce supernovae (and their remnants) are in a very short time that often explodes while in clusters where other O-type stars are present.

When we detect cosmic rays coming from such clusters, we cannot say whether the remaining or surviving stars are responsible. However, Cygnus OB2, which is only a few million years old – even the short ones are narrow – ended its life at a very young age for the shortest-surviving star.