On the origins of star stuff: Shedding new light on origin of anti-matter
Astronomers have used a high-altitude observatory in Mexico to better understand where gamma rays come from. More than 300 massive water tanks sit waiting at the site for cascades of particles initiated by high-energy packets of light called gamma rays — many of which have more than a million times the energy of a dental X-ray. When these gamma rays smash into the upper atmosphere, they blast apart atoms in the air, producing a shower of particles that moves at nearly the speed of light toward the ground. When this shower reaches HAWC’s tanks, it produces coordinated flashes of blue light in the water, allowing researchers to reconstruct the energy and cosmic origin of the gamma ray that kicked off the cascade.