NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer spacecraft recently found a new cosmic rays’ isotope, which is reported to have helped the researchers to understand the supernova explosion and its harmful effects on the astronauts. The reports suggest that the isotope, Iron-60 or 60Fe, is a particle from the explosion of stars, which has been recently discovered and has helped the scientists to determine the actual source of cosmic rays.
Financial Express reported that according to a research scientist, Eric Christian, prior to the ACE observations, they had literally no idea of when the creation of the particle emission took place. “The particle found by the ACE’s Cosmic Ray Isotope Spectrometer led researchers to decipher how old the cosmic rays were and how far are they from their source,” said Eric, as reported by Perf Science. “Massive stars explode and send the 60Fe flying onto space at cosmic ray speed. If a nearby star explodes, then the particles of both stars collide.”
Besides, there are reports that the NASA team, comprised of Robert Binns and Martin Israel of Washington University, confirmed the hypothesis that the cosmic rays were generated after a huge star near the Earth exploded and became a supernova over 2.3 million years ago and these particles were detected by ACE’s CRIS.
“Researchers determined that the source of the cosmic rays had to be clusters of massive stars, which are known as OB associations,” reported Pulse Headlines. “In these clusters, supernova explosions occur every few million years from each other, producing the 60Fe radioactive isotope.”
Meanwhile, HNGN reported the composition of the cosmic rays and the reason behind the behavioral traits of its isotopic particles. “Cosmic rays are comprised of atoms that have been separated from their electrons, leaving only the nucleus of each atom as it is shot through space at near-light speed,” reported Science Daily. “Since the nucleus of an atom is comprised of protons and neutrons, it sports a positive charge, which allows the particle’s trajectory to be altered by the magnetic fields found throughout space.”
Additionally, there are reports that the ACE spacecraft has detected around 300,000 particles of iron 56Fe isotopes and 15 particles of 60Fe isotope over the last 17 years.
Apart from the recently discovered source of cosmic rays, there are reported to be around 20 other similar associations close enough to Earth to be the source of the cosmic rays such as Upper Scorpios with 83 stars, Upper Centaurus-Lupus with 134 stars and Lower Centaurus-Crux with 97 stars.