Galactic Superbubbles Fire-off Ultraenergetic Cosmic Ray Particles

in science •  20 days ago

From the heart of the relatively nearby spiral galaxy known as NGC 3079 sprout two opposite and slightly different superbubbles. Astrophysicists think they work as two giant and amazingly powerful particle accelerators for cosmic rays.

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When it comes to bubbles, you are probably familiar with bubbles in soft drinks. But it seems that even galaxies like bubbles. But galactic bubbles are completely different than the ones you know from sodas. They are made from cosmic gas and are truly monumental.

The galaxy NGC 3079 has two of these superbubbles. NGC 3079 is a spiral galaxy similar to our own galaxy but is about 50 – 67 million light years away. The bubbles themselves are truly giant. The larger of them has a diameter of roughly 4900 light years and the small still boasts an impressive size of roughly 3700 lightyears.

The American x-ray observatory Chandra recently found the NGC 3079 superbubbles are actually incredibly powerful particle accelerators for cosmic rays as Chandra detected ultra-energetic particles being porn at the edges of the bubbles.

Scientists have suspected for some time that supernova explosions may be creators of particles that have around 100 times more energy compared to what we can create with the Large Hadron Collider. But they didn’t know at all where even more energetic particles come from.

New data from Chandra suggests that one of the sources of these ultra-energetic particles could be these galactic superbubbles. The bubbles grow over time and push on cosmic gas that surrounds them. The outer area of the superbubbles generate shockwaves and it seems that in their magnetic fields we can find electrically charged particles that sometimes get shot into space at incredible speeds and thus energies.

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