Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays

Scientists developed a model which explains the nature of high-energy cosmic rays in our Galaxy


A team of scientists from Russia and China has developed a model which explains the nature of high-energy cosmic rays (CRs) in our Galaxy. These CRs have energies exceeding those produced by supernova explosions by one or two orders of magnitude. The model focuses mainly on the recent discovery of giant structures called Fermi bubbles.

Fig. 1. X-ray and gamma-ray emission bubbles (Fermi Bubbles) in the Milky Way. CREDIT NASA

One of the key problems in the theory of the origin of cosmic rays (high-energy protons and atomic nuclei) is their acceleration mechanism. The issue was addressed by Vitaly Ginzburg and Sergei Syrovatsky in the 1960s when they suggested that CRs are generated during supernova (SN) explosions in the Galaxy. A specific mechanism of charged particle acceleration by SN shock waves was proposed by Germogen Krymsky and others in 1977. Due to the limited lifetime of the shocks, it is estimated that the maximum energy of the accelerated particles cannot exceed 1014-1015 eV (electronvolts).

The question arises of how to explain the nature of particles with energies above 1015 eV. A major breakthrough in researching the acceleration processes of such particles came when the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected two gigantic structures emitting radiation in gamma-ray band in the central area of the Galaxy in November 2010. The discovered structures are elongated and are symmetrically located in the Galactic plane perpendicular to its center, extending 50,000 light-years, or roughly half of the diameter of the Milky Way disk. These structures became known as Fermi bubbles. Later, the Planck telescope team discovered their emission in the microwave band.

The nature of Fermi bubbles is still unclear, however the location of these objects indicates their connection to past or present activity in the center of the galaxy, where a central black hole of 106 solar masses is believed to be located. Modern models relate the bubbles to star formation and/or an energy release in the Galactic center as a result of tidal disruption of stars during their accretion onto a central black hole. The bubbles are not considered to be unique phenomena observed only in the Milky Way and similar structures can be detected in other galactic systems with active nuclei.

Dmitry Chernyshov (MIPT graduate), Vladimir Dogiel (MIPT staff member) and their colleagues from Hong Kong and Taiwan have published a series of papers on the nature of Fermi bubbles. They have shown that X-ray and gamma-ray emission in these areas is due to various processes involving relativistic electrons accelerated by shock waves resulting from stellar matter falling into a black hole. In this case, the shock waves should accelerate both protons and nuclei. However, in contrast to electrons, relativistic protons with bigger masses hardly lose their energy in the Galactic halo and can fill up the entire volume of the galaxy. The authors of the paper suggest that giant Fermi bubbles shock fronts can re-accelerate protons emitted by SN to energies greatly exceeding 1015 eV.

Analysis of cosmic ray re-acceleration showed that Fermi bubbles may be responsible for the formation of the CR spectrum above the “knee” of the observed spectrum, i.e., at energies greater than 3×1015 eV (energy range “B” in Fig. 2). To put this into perspective, the energy of accelerated particles in the Large Hadron Collider is also ~1015 eV.

“The proposed model explains the spectral distribution of the observed CR flux. It can be said that the processes we described are capable of re-accelerating galactic cosmic rays generated in supernova explosions. Unlike electrons, protons have a significantly greater lifetime, so when accelerated in Fermi bubbles, they can fill up the volume of the Galaxy and be observed near the Earth. Our model suggests that the cosmic rays containing high-energy protons and nuclei with energy lower than 1015 eV (below the energy range of the observed spectrum’s “knee”), were generated in supernova explosions in the Galactic disk. Such CRs are re-accelerated in Fermi bubbles to energies over 1015 eV (above the “knee”). The final cosmic ray distribution is shown on the spectral diagram,” says Vladimir Dogiel.

The researchers have proposed an explanation for the peculiarities in the CR spectrum in the energy range from 3×1015 to 1018 eV (energy range “B” in Fig. 2).

The scientists have proven that particles produced during the SN explosions and which have energies lower than 3×1015 eV experience re-acceleration in Fermi bubbles when they move from the galactic disk to the halo. Reasonable parameters of the model describing the particles’ acceleration in Fermi bubbles can explain the nature of the spectrum of cosmic rays above 3×1015 eV. The spectrum below this range remains undisturbed. Thus, the model is able to produce spectral distribution of cosmic rays that is identical to the one observed.


75 thoughts on “Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays

    • sebmagee
      From the axis of the graph it appears that 1015 eV is actually 10^15 eV (ten raised to the power of fifteen).
      Using the ^ symbol avoids the confusion of having e exponent and e electron in the same formula, not to mention the fact that 1^15 = 1 🙂

      • My first reaction was, 1015, gee that’s not very much. It wasn’t until I saw the graph that I clued in. 🙂
        I think the problem is WordPress. There are many html tags that it doesn’t seem to support and superscript and subscript seem to be among them.

      • > > not to mention the fact that 1^15 = 1 🙂
        > Only for small values of 1.
        That approach infinity? 😉

      • Don’t overlook the possibility that the value of ^15 may not be stable at relativistic velocities.

  1. 3×1015 to 1018 eV (energy range “B” in Fig. 2).

    All references to the energy of these particles are garbage here, because that caret symbol or super script is missing. I realised when I got as far as the graph what it should read:
    3×1015 to 1018 eV ( using “suo” tags )
    3×10^15 to 10^18 eV

      • 10⁽²⁾ might work different from 10⁽³⁾, or 10⁽⁴⁰⁾, because a superscript may be a specific character or created with a font effect.
        My keyboard obediently creates superscripts to numbers, but it is a different story if wp allows them through.

      • I guess “work different” is not English, but what the heck, it creates an authentic international atmosphere.

  2. And the mbh at the galactic center is a million solar mases, 10^6.
    Interesting paper explaining how the kinetic energy in originally many particles ends up in only a few. A bit like how the energy in many ocean waves can give rise to a few extreme ones.

  3. *SPLAT*
    WP does not do scientific notation well at all.
    Most of us already know this. My apologies to the international audience.
    To express scientific notation in an understandable form, I suggest the ascii representation which computer programmers have been using since forever.
    (in computer science, the “x10” is known to be there, so no ambiguity.)

    • This is not WP itself since has no problem with sub and super-scripts. I have seen this before on WUWT , though. I don’t know whether this is due to some option Anthony hasactivated on this site.

    • 1.7×10^6 is preferable, since beside logarithm base 10, there is also the natural logarithm with base ‘ e ‘ it might be a bit confusing, the ‘e’ is best avoided unless it refers to value of 2.718…

      • There are lots of confusing idioms. Consider all the things each Greek letter can represent. link
        The ‘e’ notation is very common in computer code because it is very easy/efficient to type on the keyboard and it’s easy to write an interpreter/compiler to decode it.
        Most STEM educated people will be familiar with the ‘e’ notation and those not so educated (ie. those with a PhD in Postmodern Womens’ Studies) might not understand what the superscript means anyway. All of math is evil because it was dreamed up by old dead white men. The use of numbers disadvantages people with fewer than ten fingers and toes and is therefore politically incorrect. LOL

      • Well I’m familiar with e notation ( which has it’s roots in early programming like FORTRAN done on punch cards ) however I have no idea what a STEM is. One of the those futile obscure acronyms that waste more time than they pretend to save.
        The caret symbol would seem best here since super script characters can be too small to be clearly readable.
        those with a PhD in Postmodern Womens’ Studies would probably get confused by eV , never mind the numbers that go before it. If you don’t understand the units, the numbers don’t matter. ( except in sociology and Postmodern Womens’ Studies where graphs have no scale , no zero and no units anyway ).

      • I don’t know, guys… There are little HTML characters that perform the functions just fine for exponentiation characters.
        &#8304 = ⁰
        &#185 = ¹
        &#186 = ²
        &#179 = ³
        &#8308 = ⁴
        &#8309 = ⁵
        &#8310 = ⁶
        &#8311 = ⁷
        &#8312 = ⁸
        &#8313 = ⁹
        See? Actual breathing small, superscript characters. So the mangled 1014–1015 becomes 10¹⁴ – 10¹⁵, or that “2.38e6” computerese system (which I love, but I agree, few outside CS/Physics understand) is rendered quite pretty: 2.83×10⁶ eV
        Just saying.
        Dig into HTML and out come chestnuts.

      • Greg August 19, 2017 at 4:35 am
        … STEM …

        My bad. Science Technology Engineering Mathematics

      • cBob:
        Perhaps someone with a PhD in PWS can explain whether the major is a Study of or by Postmodern Women, or perhaps an examination of Studies done by or about them. In any event “Womens’ ” is confusing as women is already plural.

      • the notation 1.7e14 is very common, for anyone who’s done any programming or used anything like Excel to do some math.
        But I was not aware of the compatability od latex with wordpress. I’ll have a look

      • skorrent1 August 19, 2017 at 7:46 am
        … “Womens’ ” is confusing as women is already plural.

        A quick google shows that it’s always Women’s Studies.

      • I still am no further enlightened as to what the Post Modern Women are studying? More so because the Possessive ‘s indicates that studies are possessed by the Post Modern Women.

      • bobl August 19, 2017 at 7:14 pm
        … the Possessive ‘s indicates that studies are possessed by the Post Modern Women.

        They make up their own rules. They themselves are possessed.
        They argue that white men can not be victims of discrimination and sexism … ever under any circumstances. If you drag out the dictionary definitions of ‘discrimination’ and ‘sexism’, they will tell you that the dictionary is wrong. link, link

  4. They’ve pictured it like a big accelerator, like CERN have made or even inside the magnetron of your microwave oven – the poor little charged foogers find themselves in perpendicular electric/magnetic fields and just go round and round ever faster.
    Aw man, I’ve just worked out the GHGE..
    Goes like this:
    The Earth’s magnetic field (it goes up and down apart from at the equator) , at right angles electric fields produced by all the power lines that we’ve built (they go along the surface, usually) are acter-intar-rackteracking-ting with all that charged shit coming from the sun.
    And they do that all the time.
    ‘cept at night and maybe in an elipsce.
    And English summers when its cloudy.
    All the time.
    All these little boogers get hot and bothered just going round & round up the the atmosphere – c’mon, get real – wouldn’t you too? So the hot sky makes the dirt hot.
    And there it is – the sky really is a microwave oven and WE DID IT
    Wonder what Al will make of it……

  5. Nice science news — as Peta puts it, “They’ve pictured it like a big accelerator….” I’m sure there will be eddies and rifts to either observe and confirm or disentangle as instruments improve the details relating to this astonishing finding.

  6. The illustration shows what I have seen and drawn for years as the basic nature of everything large and small. An H1 atom; “fuzzy/dark” matter. The source of our matter. The reason antimatter is scarce and the universe seems to expand in all directions.
    Everything falls into its own center as if it were a donut with matter appearing only in the ever collapsing hole. We and what we see are the energy of the equation. The mass is in the Fermi bubble. We exist in holes without our mass..

  7. Last sentence of the post:
    ” Thus, the model is able to produce spectral distribution of cosmic rays that is identical to the one observed.”
    But, but, but … they seem to be judging their model on how well it represents the observed data. In this day of post-modern science, is this allowed? Surely, it should be model first, then massage the data until it fits? These astrophysicists from Moscow will never become proper climate scientists. The very idea! /sarc

  8. “exceeded by super nova”
    There is no such thing as a super nova. There is no evidence of worth to even challenge what I just stated.

    • “There is no such thing as a supernova.”
      Do you have some other theory to explain our current universe?

  9. Kirchhoff’s law on thermal emissions is invalidated. Most of what we think we know is wrong, IF you understand the implication of that invalidation.
    Here it is being invalidated.
    As I keep saying, Astronomy and especially theoretical astrophysics, are fields full of utter nonsense, thanks to the abuse of Einstein’s work

    • Kirchhoff never used observational physical evidence to validate his theory, only mathematics

    • But I guess mainstream science ignores papers and experiments hoping they go away.
      This law has been invalidated and the astronomy community pretends it never happened.

      • Mark 7:16am, the experiment in your video is a strawman constructed so as to easily stab that strawman.
        A clue ought to be found in what the guy calls the first thermal image. Note the holes show a different color than the blocks into which they are drilled yet as he notes the hole surfaces are the same temperature as the object’s other surfaces. How can that be if Planck’s law is valid for the holes of this experiment? It can’t. Planck’s law and thus Kirchhoff’s law are not applicable to the holes of this experiment. His conclusions are thus inappropriate; the experiments do not invalidate Kirchhoff’s Law.
        Planck developed the math in his treatise so that his law will only be applied to objects with all positive radii much larger than the wavelength of light of interest. That means only applicable to objects that do not radiate to themselves. Unfortunately for the video guy the surfaces of the holes drilled in his various objects radiate to themselves accounting for the difference in thermal image color shown in the video.
        Testing has shown Planck and Kirchhoff radiation laws are applicable to the earth as an oblate spheroid under solar and terrestrial illumination (significantly positive radii much larger than the wavelength of light of interest, thus negligible diffraction).

      • Utter nonsense, the paper has been published and reviewed. It’s solid, you are a science fan, and in denial, like much of mainstream astronomy.

      • and it seems you know nothing of Kirchhoff’s law of thermal emissions too.
        Might I add, Robitaille conceptualized and built our current MRIs doubling the world record when people like you told him he would dry people
        You also don’t know what straw man means.
        Ugh another scientism type.

      • No name guy with no understanding of the topic claims one of world’s foremost if not foremost imaging experts is making up science.
        Then provides no evidence at all for his claims bar rambling nonsense.
        You obviously have no idea what you are copy and pasting, of which you certainly did, and edited it to make it look your own.
        The material make up of the cavity matters, Kirchhoff said it did not. You are the one creating a straw man, Science is not for you pal

      • Here is another trick like complete lack of understanding of invalidation and the implications of the invalidation.
        It seems many people with actual physics PhDs don’t even understand Kirchhoff’s law concerning Astronomy and thermal radiation
        “Pierre Robitaille is a world class crank who believes that he has discovered a serious flaw in the theory of thermal radiation. His “proof of invalidity” is vacuous. He’s missed the simple point that a perfect blackbody is from the outset only a theoretical idealization which is nevertheless very much relevant to the theory of actual thermal radiation from real cavities.
        He believes that the source of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which has been experimentally measured by many satellite observations and which has almost exactly a perfectly Planckian form for the radiation distribution, is the earth’s oceans, a completely ludicrous suggestion on its face”
        ^^ from a physicist.. No the CBR is a result of data processing not experimental measurement by many satellite observations and he ignores the problem with microwaves and COBE and the fact the Planck satellite has the heat shield bolted to the black body payload (in the sat designs) and so the payload is useless, convection pollutes it.
        Not that you addressed the issue in your post Trick, you didn’t, and this one attempts to, and fails, with the straw man “perfect black body”. Kirchoff stated the material make up of the cavity is arbitrary, that it does not matter, which is proven incorrect.
        For the standard model to be valid, for quantum physics to be valid, cavities must be arbitrary, and they are not, you are lost in space

      • COBE’s shield does not protect it from microwaves, hydroxyls in the atmosphere, the weak hydrogen bond causes oscillation, and the atmosphere is full of this.
        COBE was not high enough to avoid this refraction, throw in the planck design flaw and add in copious amounts of data processing and removing of signals, and lets not forget the fake null signal they got.. which were signals on different flipping scales!!
        CBR is utter nonsense too

      • But NASA were never good at admitting they are wrong. NO scientist likes to admit wasting billions of tax payers money, and the CBR project has done just that.
        As correctly stated, you must have a priori knowledge of a signal if the noise is 1000 times stronger, OR you must control the signal, neither criteria are met for these standards, standards that cannot be ignored for imaging.
        BICEP II team upon their gravitational waves discovery then non discovery.
        “It’s not that we were wrong, we over interpreted the data”

  10. There are no black holes neutron stars super novae big bang or any of that nonsense.
    There is not and never will be worm holes either.
    De Grasse Tyson called the movie Interstellar “Scientifically Accurate”!?!?!

    • Its kind of sobering to consider how reliable the electronics has been. Mostly … because of the size of transistors used. Back 40+ years ago, you could actually SEE transistors on a computer chip with a jeweler’s loupe. Yep, tiny, but not fractions-of-a-wavelength-of-light small, as they are today. 3 to 5 μm linewidth. Usually much larger for power lines and so on.
      A cosmic ray, crashing thru the probe’s shell, structural stuff, “computer can” and little ceramic chip holders stands a pretty good chance of hitting something, and quite literally on a tiny scale, explode into a cascade of charged particles. On the “μm” scale.
      Hit a Pioneer transistor with that cascade, and sure… it might suddenly conduct when it wasn’t supposed to. For a few nanoseconds, at most. Being big ‘n’ thick, it isn’t usually damaged, just jostled a bit. Hit a present-day ThreadRipper chip having 10 billion transistors crammed into a US quarter-sized chip, and that cascade won’t just slam into hundreds of adjacent transistors, but the particle energy is high enough to more or less permanently disable the transistors from future ‘proper’ functioning.
      Might not sound like the end of the world, but if the explosion site is in the middle of a CPU, it will be Unhappy Days for the CPU. For memory, it is better: you lose a bit; if the designers employed mathematical scatter-gather error-correction/redundancy to a high degree, you mightn’t lose anything. But that area once hit becomes more susceptible to future data loss. ECC is like that. It works the first time (at a position), and who knows, maybe a second time. But rarely a 3rd, 4th or subsequent hit.
      0.1 MHz clock rate, micro (not nano-) scopic transistors, “thick”, “fat” and collision tolerant transistors. Performance by today’s standards of you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me slow, but for a Scientific Instrument, it was plenty good.

      • William Shockley has done enormous service to the humanity.
        I sincerely hope that his home town (Palo Alto) has not erected a statue to honer this great physicist and inventor, although he well deserves one.
        Why do I say so?
        I will not quote his response to Frances Welsing, but if you want to know, it is in the wikipedea somewhere or another.

      • I’ve often wondered if modern device architectures might be more prone to failure due to CR bombardment. Do device manufacturers even have the masks for the older generation components?

      • S class 10 K rad hard parts have very specific design rules and structures: Up down ISO. deep EPI, graded drains to prevent hot electron damage on CMOS, no traces over active regions, Back side grinding to create traps, gold die attach, extra thick double layer bond pads to prevent purple plague, silicon doped Al contacts to prevent spiking, double layer Al traces to decrease electromigration, guard rings, even the top passivation is carefully controlled, etc, etc.
        Some very ignorant individuals have suggested puchasing commercial parts and then testing them to mil spec or even S class. Mil spec -55C to +125C are designed to different design rules. S class 10K rad hard are further different from Mil or commercial in just about every respect.

      • Interesting, but since Moore’s Law is really a law of manufacturing costs, it’s a safe bet you could throw more redundancy in there at a similar rad spec for less money today and end up with better MTBF overall.

  11. This Russian-Chinese theory or model is anyway much more convincing than the present theory, which is that Cosmic Rays have an origin in the supernova events. There are at least two challenges: There is only one SN in every hundred year in a galaxy and CRs seem to come from all directions with the constant speed. Quite lately they have noticed that a pretty great deal of CRs originate from the Sun.

  12. Thank you Anthony.
    A very interesting article.
    First, just looking at that beautiful picture of the Galaxy and the Fermi bubbles, one is left with only one thing to really say……….what a breath taking picture, but none the less a phony one.
    The model output data for that picture completely dwarfs in a cosmic scale the input data.
    The distance of the Fermi detection point from such bubbles is far too close for such a picture to be contemplated and considered as representing some thing real if the amount of observational data is not increased and amplified by a cosmic factor.
    The raw data can not ever produce that picture unless the model it goes through has an “insane” generic data algorithm to compensate for the missing data required for such a picture.
    Our Earth and our Sun are too too close too these Fermi bubbles, according to the Fermi bubbles size and the distance of our solar system to the center of the Milky Way.
    The out put of the model is a product driven to produce a desired and expected result, which will not upset a lot a lot of other scientistas. The model seems to be one tailored to just out put such a result.
    The picture in question is due to a Fermi view point (Earth view point), that as far as I can tell, is in a Zoom out at 40K X to 80K X…… where K stands for thousand.
    The way that picture stands it points out at the need of having Fermi data not confuse and invalidate the output from the light models, the models that are fed with data from Hubble and such as……..
    The main problem, according to Fermi cosmic ray data is that the Cosmic ray source is far too big (very big radius) for a comfort, but with a stretch, like in this case, still not a big anomaly, if pictured and considered as per an by the model in question……..
    Will be interesting to have an argument about this.

  13. “The discovered structures are elongated and are symmetrically located in the Galactic plane perpendicular to its center…”
    The structures are symmetrical, but are very much NOT located in the Galactic Plane. They are above and below the GP or symmetrically located with respect to the GP. They are not “in” it, as the diagram clearly shows.

    • jorgekafkazar
      August 19, 2017 at 1:46 pm
      And that is the model “trick”, no touch of GP, and that (the no touch) is what is impossible for the raw data to show or point out at……..unless the model is tailored to do, I think.

  14. Interesting article but I am a bit concerned about…
    “The scientists have proven that particles produced during the SN explosions and which have energies lower than 3×1015 eV experience re-acceleration in Fermi bubbles when they move from the galactic disk to the halo.”
    Having a model produce a match for measurements, while certainly much better than the priests of AGW ever achieve, is NOT proof.
    I’m also a little curious what happens to the particles that lie between 10^15 eV and 3 x 10^15 eV. – are there any who get just a gentle ‘push’ to (say) 2 x 10^15 eV?

  15. Totally off topic, but when I saw the first graphic I thought: whoa sure looks like a p-shell. Fractal shapes repeating at different scales?

  16. Note that this is a press release about a paper that was posted in January and still has 0 citations, see “Origin of X-ray and gamma-ray emission from the Galactic central region” at Google Scholar. So among thousands of similar papers that are being written every year, you have picked one that belongs to the 10% of the least successful ones.

  17. It seems that some scientists find themselves on the right path to know the causes of such phenomena in the universe, but none of them have yet understood what matter is, how and from what it originates and how it disappears. The only logical thing in this article is that they believe that these rays originated from the supernova, but none of them know how and why the supernova is produced.
    Here’s how to learn something from the structure of the universe:
    -Universum is an infinite sphere, filled with substance, which we can call AETHER. From this substance, matter arises through high aether bibs, which form strings into three spatial directions and in their cross-sections the matter is formed in “solid state” -quarks, and in “liquid state” -gluones.
    Gluones hold the 3kg quadruple quarks (3 quarks and 3 gluons), and in particular a “fluid energy state” of the “free gluon” substance is formed, which can be “evaporated,” “condensed,” and split into a pair of particles “electron and Pozitron.
    At the site of vibrations, a quark-gluon plasma formed from which the celestial body is formed – a magnetar, and it transforms into: a quasar, a dual star, and later a neutron star that explodes as a supernova and forms subatomic particles, atoms, Elements, gas clothing, baby bodies.
    Very important phenomena:
     -gravitation: the residual unbalanced state between the ether and the “solid state” of the matter (“family backlog”)
     – magnetism-is, the backward link between ether and free gluons.
    Gravity has the task of bringing matter into the masses of mass, until critical mass and critical gravity reach. Then the material is transformed back into the form of the ether from which it was formed, which takes place in black holes (the “tomb” of matter and the end of the closed circle of the process of formation and dissolution of matter). You understand this as my copyright, which I leave as proof of what I wrote and to whom I wrote.

  18. Thus, the model is able to produce spectral distribution of cosmic rays that is identical to the one observed.

    And that is how models SHOULD be used in science. You propose a theory, build a model on the theory and THEN compare the model output to REAL WORLD data. If the model is close you win (well not quite as you could have been luck for one case, multiple comparisons are needed). If the model isn’t close you lose and your theory is wrong, see climate models for examples of losing.

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