Are Aliens Proving Their Existence? Cosmic Rays Come From Far Galaxies

Pablo Tucker
September 23, 2017

A massive global collaboration more than 12 years in the making has struck gold. Some unknown engine accelerates them to energies 100 million times as high as that of protons in the Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator on Earth (SN: 7/19/08, p. 16).

"The particles we detect are so energetic they have to come from astrophysical phenomena that are extremely violent".

However, cosmic rays will present a hazard to unprotected astronauts traveling beyond Earth's magnetic field because they can act like microscopic bullets, damaging structures and breaking apart molecules in living cells. They pick up a signal in a few detectors within an array of 1,600 detectors. One such conundrum is their origin.

Now stargazers have finally discovered where these little understood "high-energy cosmic rays" are coming from. The problem is by the time they reach Earth, it's almost impossible to pinpoint the source. The extragalactic origin of cosmic rays opens up the tantalising possibility that there is life in the next galaxy. When they came to earth and interacted with the Planet's atmosphere, the rays come into contact of Nuclei. 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.


There have been cosmic rays observed with even higher energy those used in the Pierre Auger Collaboration study, some even with the kinetic energy of well-struck tennis ball.

Since then, they have argued about the source of those ultra-high-energy cosmic rays - whether they came from our galaxy or outside the Milky Way. Only one atomic nucleus has enough energy as a tennis ball flung at 100mph. Its energy level is greater than the power made by a human-made particle accelerator. It's thought that on average one square kilometer of the upper atmosphere is hit by just one single such energetic particle every century.

Scientists built Auger to find out.

Lehman College is a collaborating institution in The Pierre Auger Observatory in Pampa Amarilla, Argentina, the largest cosmic ray observatory in the world.


This diagram of a cosmic ray detector shows how Cherenkov light from air-shower particles in water is detected by three photomultipler tubes. The research team that published the Science paper had been collecting data for 12 years - from 2004 to 2016 - and that formed the basis for their results. Instead of appearing uniformly across the night's sky, there seemed to be a preferential direction. In addition, our Galaxy's magnetic field deflects the paths of these charged particles, making it more hard to locate their sources. While we still do not know exactly where in the universe these mysterious and powerful particles originate, now we at least know where not to look.

"Earth sees a constant rain of these particles, but we had no idea where they come from", study co-author Karl-Heinz Kampert, a particle astrophysicist at the University of Wuppertal in Germany and spokesman for the Pierre Auger Collaboration, told Space.com.

"It's a very hard problem to attack, maybe the hardest problem in high-energy astrophysics", says astroparticle physicist Vasiliki Pavlidou of the University of Crete in Heraklion, Greece, who was not involved in the new work.

400 scientists from 18 countries take part in the Pierre Auger Collaboration, which develops and runs the observatory of the same name.


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