Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of radioactive waves known in the universe. However, how they’re made and where they come from have been a bit of a mystery.
But now a team of researchers, led by Michigan State University astronomer Laura Chomiuk, has made a discovery that may shed some light on the subject.
An MSU-led team of scientists has found that gamma rays are emitted from a stellar explosion known as a nova. Where and how these high-energy waves are produced has been a mystery among astronomers. In this artist’s rendering, the yellow depicts the material that is expelled just days after the stellar explosion. Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF.
Using highly detailed radio telescope images, Chomiuk and her team have pinpointed the location where an explosion on the surface of a star, known as a nova, emitted gamma rays.
This, said Chomiuk, is something they did not expect to encounter.
“We not only found where the gamma rays came from,” she said, “but also got a look at a previously unseen scenario that may be common in other nova explosions.”
The research is detailed in the current issue of Nature.
A nova occurs in a star that is part of a binary system – two stars orbiting one another. One star, known as a dense white dwarf, steals matter from the other and the interaction triggers a thermonuclear explosion that flings debris into space.
It was from this explosion from a system known as V959 Mon, located some 5,000 light years from Earth, that the researchers think the gamma rays were emitted.
This activity was first detected two years ago by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Also about that same time similar activity was being picked up by land-based radio telescopes around the world.
Since that initial detection by Fermi, which occurred in2012, the spacecraft has detected gamma rays from three additional nova explosions in other star systems.
“This mechanism may be common to such systems,” said Chomiuk. “The reason the gamma rays were first seen in V959 Mon is because it’s closer to us.”
Because the type of ejection detected in V959 Mon also is seen in other binary star systems, the new insights might help astronomers understand how those systems develop.
“We may be able to use novae as a ‘testbed’ for improving our understanding of this critical stage of binary evolution,” Chomiuk said.
Gamma rays can be dangerous and are capable of killing living cells. The medical field uses gamma rays, along with X-rays and other forms of high-energy radiation, to treat cancer.
Fortunately, by the time gamma rays travel across the universe to us, they are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere.
Tom Oswald | Eurek Alert!
Further reports about: > Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope > Gamma-ray Space Telescope > Space Telescope > Zeroing > activity > binary star > binary star systems > binary system > explosions > gamma rays > high-energy radiation > living cells > radio telescopes > star systems > telescope images > white dwarf
APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences