Physicists Identify Cosmic Ray "Hot Spots," Raising Questions About Understanding of Galactic Magnetic Fields Near Our Solar System


Physicists have observed for the first time two distinct hot spots that appear to be showering Earth with an excess of cosmic rays. The discovery calls into question nearly a century of understanding about galactic magnetic fields near our solar system because it raises the possibility that an unknown source or magnetic effect is responsible for these observations.

The localized regions of excess cosmic rays (in red) observed by Milagro superimposed on a star map in this region. The Orion constellation is connected  by white lines in the lower part of the image.
The localized regions of excess cosmic rays (in red) observed by Milagro superimposed on a star map in this region. The Orion constellation is connected by white lines in the lower part of the image.

Physicists have observed for the first time two distinct hot spots that appear to be showering Earth with an excess of cosmic rays. The discovery calls into question nearly a century of understanding about galactic magnetic fields near our solar system because it raises the possibility that an unknown source or magnetic effect is responsible for these observations.

Their findings, published in the latest issue of the Physical Review Letters, were obtained using the Milagro Gamma Ray Observatory, a detector located at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico that allows monitoring of the northern sky on a 24-hour, 7-day-per-week basis.

The research team, comprised of researchers from more than a dozen institutions, including New York University, used the Milagro cosmic-ray observatory to peer into the sky above the northern hemisphere for nearly seven years starti 500

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