The LHAASO observatory in China is not yet complete, but half of it is already operational and hunting for high-energy photons. I have now attributed 12 pevatrons in the Milky Way, whose performance exceeds what physicists considered possible. At the same time, they discovered the most active photon in history, the 1.4 PeV energy.
China High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO) in southeast Sichuan is still under construction. But it is already clear that it will become a major Chinese research facility. And he’s already making wonderful discoveries. Recently, LHAASO observatories have made an impressive catch in the Milky Way.
Crab Nebula in a collage. Credit: NASA / HST / ASU / J. Hester et al. X-ray: NASA / CXC / ASU / J. Hester et al.
They tracked a total of 530 highly energetic photons out of a dozen bevatron, extreme particle accelerators, completely normal, yet still mysterious and fun. And as icing on the cake, they captured the standard photon with the most energy we’ve seen with the photon. This fairy carried 1.4 PeV power. New discoveries by LHAASO have overturned our current ideas about sources of extreme radiation in the Milky Way.
We seem to be witnessing the dawn of the era of high-energy gamma astronomy. At the same time, it is clear that we need to research our concepts of how gamma rays are generated and propagated in the Milky Way. LHAASO has not yet been fully operational. These discoveries were obtained with half of the detector system, which was completed at the end of 2019 and was in operation for 11 months in 2020.
LHAASO discovered 12 pevatrons in the Milky Way, that is, stable sources of gamma radiation, from which the radiation emits energies close to the beta electron volt level. These photons are called UHE (super energy), which has an energy of more than 0.1 PeV. LHAASO captured record-breaking energy photons in the area of the highly active Star Birth Hospital in the constellation of the Hen.
It’s a little shocking to physicists. Ground accelerators can only accelerate to about 0.01 PeV. As for the Milky Way, everyone assumed we had bivatrons in it at a level of more than 0.1 PeV. And it looks like we were around. It turns out that in the case of super-energetic photons, there are a number of things in the Milky Way that could actually move forward. These are young massive star clusters, supernova remnants or, for example, stellar nebulae. Typical actors are the stellar birth hospitals in the Swan or Crab Nebula.
There is a good chance that super-energies gamma astronomy will finally solve the ancient mystery of cosmic rays. LHAASO will also undoubtedly contribute to research into other fascinating high-energy space phenomena that are pressing down on current laws of physics.
Video: The Chinese LHAASO Cosmic Ray Observatory is officially under construction