New computer simulation helps search for origin of cosmic rays

The colored lines show how cosmic rays are deflected by magnetic fields. The straight white lines represent a broadband magnetic field. In addition, magnetic fields of small size not shown here act on particle trajectories (colored lines). Credit: RUB, Dr. Lukas Merten

By simulating the transmission of cosmic rays using a new computer program, international scientists hope to reveal the sources of these atomic fragments.

Discovered in 1912, the The origin of cosmic rays Keep dodging scientists.

Cosmic rays are atomic fragments that rain down on Earth from outside our solar system. With many believing their origins to be related to supernovae, computer models are thought to be the key to finally understanding these fragmented rays.

A team of researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) has published their new research using this software in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.

Particle trajectory

Researchers describe how Their program called “CRPropa” It traces the paths of particles from their formation to their arrival on Earth. “We can also fully explain the interaction of particles with matter and photon fields in the universe,” says Julien Dörner, a PhD student at RUB.

This new software has the ability to simulate not only cosmic ray propagation but also the signals of neutrinos and gamma rays generated by cosmic ray interactions.

“Unlike cosmic rays, these transmitted particles can be observed directly from their sources, as they come to Earth on a straight path,” explains Dr. Patrick Richerzer, a postdoctoral researcher at RUB. “We can also use the software to predict these signatures of neutrinos and gamma rays from distant galaxies such as starbursts or active galaxies.”

take steps in understanding the universe

The simulation program offered is currently the most comprehensive and will continue to increase scientific understanding of space and the universe.

“We can explore new energy bands in simulations that cannot be fully captured in such detail with the software available so far,” said Professor Karl-Heinz Kambert of the University of Wuppertal.

“Importantly, we can develop a theoretical model that describes the transition from cosmic rays from our galaxy to a portion of distant galaxies and compare it to the observations.”

A cosmic view in the middle of a group of galaxies
A cosmic landscape at the center of a cluster of galaxies © X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/S.Randall et al. Optical: SDSS

Use theoretical calculations to interpret experimental data

Benefiting from an international collaboration of 17 researchers from Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, England and Austria, “CRPropa will contribute significantly to understanding the source of cosmic rays,” said CRC spokesperson Professor Julia Teos of RUB.

Conducted as part of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1491 Interaction of Cosmic Matter, the project was funded by German Research Foundation.

Professor Tjus explained, “The publication is a major step towards a quantitative description of the transmission and interaction of cosmic rays in three dimensions. After all, we need theoretical computations to help us interpret the diverse set of data we receive from the different instruments observing the universe.”

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