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Surprising Find: Gamma-ray Burst Not A Source Of Cosmic Rays

Surprising Find: Gamma-ray Burst Not A Source Of Cosmic Rays
4/19/2012 12:58 AM ET

The existing theory that suggests gamma-ray bursts may be one of the sources of ultra high energy cosmic rays has now come under question, thanks to new insights provided by IceCube Neutrino Observatory, the world's largest neutrino detector, located at the South Pole.

Cosmic rays, which are high energy charged particles, were discovered in 1912, and their origin has remained a mystery since then. Black holes at the centers of active galaxies and exploding fireballs observed by astronomers called gamma-ray bursts or GRBs, have been suggested as possible sources of these cosmic rays.

But going by the recent results from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, it appears that gamma-ray bursts, which are the most energetic explosions known in the Universe, will now have to be ruled out as a source of the cosmic rays.

Read on to find out why...

Gamma-ray bursts are expected to produce significant fluxes of neutrinos, which are closely linked to the cosmological evolution of the cosmic ray. But, a search for neutrinos emitted from 300 gamma ray bursts observed by satellites between May 2008 and April 2010, has proved otherwise - with scientists finding no neutrinos.

Commenting on the surprising find, Greg Sullivan, a physicist at the University of Maryland and IceCube spokesman stated, "The unexpected absence of neutrinos from GRBs has forced a re-evaluation of the theory for production of cosmic rays and neutrinos in a GRB fireball and possibly the theory that high-energy cosmic rays are generated in fireballs."

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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