Chinese and Japanese scientists have discovered gamma rays with energy beyond 100 tera-electron volts (TeV) from an astrophysical source, Global Times reported.
A gamma ray is a type of cosmic ray generated by intense activities of high-energy celestial bodies related to origins of the universe, evolution of stars and the space environment, according to Chinese Academy of Sciences information.
Scientists in a joint China-Japan experiment in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region discovered 24 gamma rays of energy above 100 TeV, with the highest figure reaching 450 TeV – more than five times higher than the 75 TeV rays previously detected by the High-Energy-Gamma-Ray Astronomy Cherenkov telescope in Germany, the team’s spokesperson Huang Jing said at a press conference on Wednesday in Beijing.
According to Xinhua, 450 TeV is equivalent to 45 billion times the energy of X-rays for medical use.
The discovery will lead scientists one step closer to the origins of cosmic rays and the universe, Chen Yang, a professor at the school of astronomy and space sciences of Nanjing University, said.
The origin of cosmic rays has been a mystery since their discovery in 1912.
The gamma rays are electrically neutral, and can avoid influence from magnetic fields and maintain a straight line in space, thus allowing better exploration of the origins of these rays, according to Chen.
Experts said at the conference that cosmic rays are one of the obstacles that astronauts face when they live and work. Research on newly discovered rays will also help scientists to develop protection tools to better help astronauts avoid radiation from cosmic rays.
Experts believe that the gamma rays come from the Crab Nebula, which is a supernova remnant in the constellation Taurus and is about 6,500 light years away from Earth.
The Crab Nebula was produced by a supernova explosion, which was recorded in 1054 in official historical documents of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).