The Large Alpine Air Stream Observatory (LHAASO) in China has helped scientists detect powerful energetic gamma rays. It turned out that their source is an object thousands of light years away.
LHAASO also detected a photon with an energy of 1.1 PeV (1 PeV equals one quadrillion electron volts or 1.1 million billion electron volts). The find points to an extremely powerful electron accelerator located in the central region of the Crab Nebula. Its size is comparable to one tenth of the solar system.
Such an accelerator excites electrons to a level 20,000 times the maximum value of CERN’s Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP). The parameters of the detected photon approached the absolute theoretical limit set by classical electrodynamics and ideal magnetohydrodynamics.
The photon supposedly originated from a high-energy electron that collided with it and propelled it to incredible energetic levels.
New data support the hypothesis that the Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant, in the formation of which a neutron star took part. Scientists note that the discovery of new super-powerful rays will help science understand the mechanisms that are responsible for accelerating particles to colossal energies.
The Crab Nebula lies 6,500 light-years from Earth. It appeared as a result of a bright supernova explosion in 1054 AD. This is the first supernova remnant identified by modern astronomy with clear historical records. The nebula contains a powerful pulsar with a rotation period of 30 milliseconds. The rapidly rotating magnetosphere of the pulsar causes a powerful wind, consisting of electron-positron pairs moving at almost the speed of light. Electrons / positrons in a pulsar wind are accelerated to higher energies when the wind collides with the environment. The nebula is created by the radiation of accelerated electrons / positrons.