January 16, 2021

Where do cosmic rays come from?

Where do cosmic rays come from?

Astrophysics has been wondering about the origin of cosmic rays for more than a century and, although in recent years the hypothesis of black holes has been consolidated as one of the possible sources of cosmic rays, much remains to be learned in This field, in which Matteo Cerruti is currently developing his research, is one of the beneficiaries of the Junior Leader graduate scholarships of Obra Social La Caixa in this first edition.

"We know that there is a flow of electrically charged particles that hits the earth, but we do not know where it comes from," says Cerruti. In addition, he notes that "the trajectories of these particles are modified by the magnetic fields they find, which means that the direction we observe they take is not the real direction from which they come." However, as highlighted by the Italian astrophysicist, "cosmic rays are always accompanied by photons and neutrinos, and these are used to see the direction of origin because their path, their line, is not affected by the field magnetic". It is what is known as multimensajero astronomy.

In this context, until now supermassive black holes or quasars have been pointed out as one of the hypothetical sources of cosmic ray production, but in September 2017 a great advance was made in this sense when seeing photons and neutrinos for the first time from one of those quasars. From these data, the challenge now is to try to improve the knowledge about the places where these electrically charged particles are accelerated, to observe more the origin and to deepen the physics of supermassive black holes and other sources. For this, the idea is to follow the path of the multimensajero through the MAGIC telescope, which is located in La Palma, while parallel work is being done on the preparation of a new generation gamma-ray CTA telescope, with the ultimate goal of "understanding where they are accelerated the cosmic rays and the properties of the source, "says the researcher of the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona, ​​who stresses that" their research aims to respond to a fundamental physical issue to better understand the universe in which we live " , something that in appearance is far from a practical application in our daily life. "The need to develop new technical instruments that allow us to carry out this research, of which we do not currently have, will have a return in society." "All the methods developed will reach citizenship and will have an application in our existence," says Matteo. He also recalls that "digital photography comes out of astrophysics, just as the current revolution in" Big Data "comes from the need to analyze large volumes of data produced in fundamental physics experiments."


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