Aresearcher at the IHEP under the CAS conducts maintenance with staff members at China's LHAASO in Daocheng, southwest China's Sichuan Province, April 28, 2019. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
Chinese scientists have detected a dozen ultra-high-energy (UHE) cosmic accelerators within the Milky Way, a find that could overturn humanity's understanding of the galaxy and help reveal the origin of cosmic rays, which have puzzled scientists for a century.
The findings were based on the observations of China's Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO), one of the country's key national science and technology infrastructure facilities, which is under construction in Daocheng, in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The new discoveries were published in Nature on Monday.
Scientists led by the Institute of High Energy Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences made the discoveries after an 11-month observation using the completed half of the installation.
Scientists have also detected photons with energies exceeding 1 peta-electron volt (quadrillion electron-volts or PeV), 100 times more energy than the record high achieved by any manmade accelerator on Earth. One photon with an energy of 1.4 PeV was detected, the highest value ever observed by humans.
"These findings overturn our traditional understanding of the Milky Way and open up an era of UHE gamma astronomy. These observations will prompt us to rethink the mechanism by which high-energy particles are generated and propagated in the Milky Way," said Cao Zhen, chief scientist of LHAASO.
"In addition, these observations will encourage us to explore more deeply violent celestial phenomena and their physical processes, as well as to test basic physical laws under extreme conditions," Cao said.