Scientists solve the mystery of gamma-ray ’empty sky’

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Scientists solve the mystery of gamma rays “empty sky”, today, Friday, September 17, 2021 06:36 pm

Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) have confirmed that star-forming galaxies are responsible for the formation of gamma rays that have not yet been linked to a known origin.

Lead author Dr Matt Roth, from the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said: ‘Until now it is not clear what triggered gamma rays, one of the most energetic forms of light in the universe, appearing in patches that look like an ’empty sky’. “.

The discovery could provide clues to help astronomers solve other mysteries of the universe, such as what kind of particles make up dark matter, one of the holy grails of astrophysics.

Dr Roth explained: “It is an important milestone to finally discover the origins of the gamma-ray emission, and to solve the mystery of the universe that astronomers have been trying to decipher since the 1960s.”

He continued, “There are two obvious sources that produce large amounts of visible gamma rays in the universe. One is when gas falls into the supermassive black holes located at the centers of all galaxies, called active galactic nuclei (AGN), and the other is associated with star formation in galactic disks.”

“We modeled gamma ray emission from all galaxies in the universe and compared our results with predictions from other sources and found that star-forming galaxies produce the majority of scattered gamma rays and not the active galactic nucleus process.”

Australian National University scientists were able to determine the cause of these mysterious gamma rays after gaining a better understanding of how cosmic rays, particles that travel at speeds very close to the speed of light, move through interstellar gas. Cosmic rays are important because they create large amounts of gamma-ray emission in star-forming galaxies when they collide with interstellar gas.

Data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope have been a major source used to reveal the unknown origins of gamma rays.

Scientists analyzed information about many galaxies such as star formation rates, total masses, physical size, and distances from Earth.

“Our model can also be used to make predictions of radio emissions, electromagnetic radiation of a frequency similar to a car radio, from star-forming galaxies, which can help researchers understand more about the internal structure of galaxies,” Roth said.

He noted: “We are currently looking into producing maps of the gamma-ray sky that can be used to inform gamma-ray observations coming from next-generation telescopes. This includes the Cherenkov Telescope Array, in which Australia is participating. We hope this new technology will allow us to observe more star-forming galaxies in the world. gamma rays than we can detect with current gamma ray telescopes.”

The results of this study were published in full in the journal Nature, and the authors are from Australia and Italy.

Source: phys.org

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