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New mysteries of cosmic rays

Astronomers involved in the Russian experiment the NUCLEON, have discovered a new phenomena in the physics of galactic cosmic rays.

Participants of the Russian experiment to study cosmic rays with orbital Observatory cosmic ray NUCLEON presented the results of the first year of operation. A study published in the journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (JCAP). A Preprint of the work can be viewed on the website arxiv.org. The team of researchers includes 9 Russian organizations headed by the research Institute of nuclear physics named after D. Skobeltsyn (SINP) of Moscow state University.

The Russian astronomers were able to measure the energy spectra of the major nuclei of various chemical elements (p, He, C, O, Ne, Mg, Si and Fe) in cosmic rays up to energies not previously possible . But the most interesting that the analysis of these spectra pointed out the existence of a number of new phenomena that do not fit into modern ideas about the mechanisms of acceleration of cosmic rays to gigantic energies and their spread through the Galaxy. Perhaps they will lead to the refinement of these ideas.

Galactic cosmic rays (GCR) represent the streams of charged particles with very high velocities and energies, respectively, by penetrating interstellar space. They carry important information about the most energetic processes in the Universe. Therefore, their study is one of the important tasks of modern astronomy. The main characteristic of cosmic rays serve their spectra of energies, which is a dependence of the intensity (power flux) of cosmic rays from energies of their constituent particles.

Mathematically measured in a wide energy range (from about 1010 eV to 1020 eV at a particle) spectra have the form pretty close to decreasing exponential function with an index of from about 2.5 to slightly more than 3, changing over this energy range. Such spectra are called exponential.

In the early 1960-ies by V. L. Ginzburg and S. I. syrovatskii showed that the main characteristic features of the behavior of cosmic rays, including the total energy and power spectrum energies in good agreement with the assumption that the main source of GCR is the shell of supernova explosions.

At the end of the 1970s this assumption was supported by the theory of charged particle acceleration on the shock front of the expanding supernova shells G. F. Krymsky, and A. R. bell. A recent study of astrophysicists MIPT allowed to explain the behavior of the spectrum at high energies such processes in the Fermi Bubbles.

Although the experiment NUCLEON is at an early stage, and the results are still preliminary, it is already possible to tell with confidence that his data provide numerous indications of the existence of various non-standard phenomena in the physics of cosmic rays, which are manifested in the violation of power-law energy spectra. In addition, the differences of the spectra of protons and helium, heavier nuclei and nuclei of iron, etc.

Perhaps part of the open phenomena can be explained by already known theorists mechanisms. Thus, the difference between the spectra of heavy nuclei and nuclei of iron may be partly due to the effects of propagation of GCR in the so-called “superuser” – propagating in the interstellar medium of the remnants of dying stars. However, discussion of these phenomena is just beginning.

Found and completely new effects, for example, breaks some of the spectra at certain energies, which still require confirmation. Therefore, the discussion of their physical nature. These phenomena are located in poorly studied in the energy range from 10 TeV to several hundred TeV on the particle, which has only become available in the experiment, the NUCLEON. The researchers hope to verify the results in further studies. It is expected that the orbital Observatory NUCLEON will work in space for at least five years.

It is worth noting one important point in the experiment, the NUCLEON. Developed and tested in the course of technical solutions and the experience gained will be used in the planning of future space missions. After all, before the developers had a difficult task of creating the scientific equipment of relatively low weight (less than 500 kg) and dimensions (less than 1 m3), capable of solving problems of experimental physics of cosmic rays in a wide energy range.

For reference. Scientific equipment NUCLEON placed on Board spacecraft Resource-P №2 is put into orbit at the end of December 2014. In January-February 2015 she has successfully passed flight tests and the beginning of a set of scientific information.

According to the press service of the Moscow state University


General view of the spacecraft “Resource-P” №2 with the equipment “NUCLEON”.

Flight model science instruments NUCLEON before closing the hatch thermocontainer.

Thermocontainer scientific aperture NUCLEON in the SPACECRAFT “Resource-P” (at the bottom under the yellow insulating covers). Installing the SPACECRAFT under the head fairing of the launch vehicle.”

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