Eight new sources of super-powerful gamma radiation have been discovered within the Milky Way. New information will help shed light on the mysterious nature of high-energy particles, better known as “cosmic rays”.
According to the generally accepted point of view, the sources of super-powerful gamma radiation are the expanding gas envelopes of supernovae, as well as pulsars – neutron stars rotating at a tremendous speed. Magnetic fields arising in the area of the shock front zone, moving together with the expanding shells, are transformed into natural accelerators of charged particles, as a result of which super-powerful gamma radiation is emitted.
Until now, astronomers have known about the existence of only ten objects of such radiation, recorded in our galaxy. New sources were discovered thanks to the use of 13-meter telescopes of the HESS type (High-Energy Stereoscopic System), on the construction of which scientists from Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Czech Republic, Armenia, South Africa and Namibia worked.
Four radio telescopes installed in Namibia just recently completed the first large-scale scanning of the Milky Way in the range in which high-energy gamma rays propagate. To detect such a beam, HESS telescopes scan the night sky looking for bursts of ultraviolet radiation that occur when a gamma ray penetrates the earth’s atmosphere. According to astrophysicist François Lebrun of the French Atomic Energy Committee, the commissioning of the HESS system heralded “the birth of a new, high-energy astronomy.”
During the scan, writes New Scientist, the system discovered eight new sources of ultra-powerful gamma radiation located within a radius of 30,000 light years from the conditional center of our galaxy. All these objects are distinguished by the extraordinary activity of emission of gamma rays and their diameter does not exceed several tens of light years, which is typical just for the remnants of supernovae.
Three of the eight objects are located exactly in the area where the ejected supernova shells should be located, and three more are near the already known pulsars. The remaining two sources of gamma rays raise some questions. These two objects, already called “dark” (“dark”), do not emit either X-rays or radio waves, which usually accompany electron flows accelerated to tremendous speeds. From this, some researchers conclude that “dark” objects, for some unknown reason, accelerate and eject only proton fluxes into space, without affecting other particles. How this happens remains to be seen.