MIT’s DIY muon detector sniffs out cosmic particles

Scientists at MIT have designed a pocket-sized muon detector that can be easily made with common electrical parts, meaning anyone can kit themselves out with legitimately-functional Ghostbusters-esque gear for less than $ 100. The device detects the c…
Engadget RSS Feed

New Research Suggests Cosmic Rays Hail From Galaxies Beyond the Milky Way

High-Energy Cosmic Rays

For decades, astronomers have known that the Earth is consistently struck by high-energy cosmic rays — charged particles that are usually the nuclei of elements — that originate from a source in space outside our solar system. These cosmic rays possess the highest possible energies observed in nature, even higher than what man-made particle accelerators can reproduce, and now, a team of scientists thinks they might have solved the mystery of their origin.

9 Physics Questions Baffling Scientists [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

In a study published Science, the researchers, known collectively as the Pierre Auger Collaboration, suggest that these cosmic signals may originate from outside of the Milky Way. Their conclusions were drawn using recordings from the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina, the largest cosmic ray observatory currently in existence, and other data.

Although cosmic rays with energy greater than two joules rarely reach Earth, when they do, their interaction with nuclei in the planet’s atmosphere creates a shower of electrons, photons, and muons, making them detectable by researchers. These showers of more than 10 billion particles spread out across diameters measuring several kilometers.

When one of the particles within this shower hits one of the Pierre Auger Observatory’s 1,600 detectors, which are spread out over an area of 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles), researchers can determine its originating direction. In the new research, the Auger collaboration studied the arrival directions of more than 300,000 cosmic particles and discovered that the arrival rates of the cosmic rays vary and aren’t uniformly spread in all directions. The rate is actually higher for certain directions.

According to the team, this anisotropy indicates an extragalactic origin for the cosmic particles, as many are coming from an area where the distribution of galaxies is fairly high. However, because the direction points toward a broad area of the sky, the specific sources remain undetermined.

Our Celestial Origins

We still have much to learn about cosmic rays, and the Pierre Auger Collaboration expects to supplement their findings when upgrades to the Auger Observatory are completed in 2018. Still, this new discovery is worthwhile. Any new knowledge about these particles can help us better understand matter from outside the solar system and, as this research suggests, from outside the Milky Way.

“We are now considerably closer to solving the mystery of where and how these extraordinary particles are created, a question of great interest to astrophysicists,” University of Wuppertal professor Karl-Heinz Kampert, a spokesperson for the Auger collaboration, said in a press release.

Figuring out the mechanisms behind these cosmic rays could help explain how galaxies form and what in their composition accounts for the creation of such high-energy particles. Furthermore, since these cosmic rays are made of particles that are also found on Earth, they could also provide important clues into the fundamental questions about our origins — perhaps even the origins of the universe itself.

The post New Research Suggests Cosmic Rays Hail From Galaxies Beyond the Milky Way appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

How author Ruthanna Emrys is subverting Lovecraft’s tropes with her own cosmic horror series

Earlier this year, I picked up Ruthanna Emrys’ debut novel, Winter Tide, a tale based on the exhaustively canvassed cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft. Along with a previous novelette called The Litany of Earth, it subverts Lovecraft’s notorious racism by making his monsters — which were often thinly veiled stand-ins for people of color — sympathetic protagonists. In the 1920s, the US government locks ancient Deep Ones in internment camps, including the series’ protagonist Aphra Marsha. Once Aphra is released after World War II, she goes into hiding — until an FBI agent recruits her to track down a cult.

Next summer, Emrys will release the second novel in her Innsmouth Legacy series: Deep Roots. After coming to terms with helping the US…

Continue reading…

The Verge – All Posts