It’s official. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has found evidence that supernova remnants speed up cosmic rays to extremely high speeds.
Scientists working on the project poured over several years of data collected by the Fermi Telescope on supernova remnants W44 and the Jellyfish Nebula (pictured above). Researchers found that charged particles within a supernova remnant would continue to gain speed until they had enough speed to escape the magnetic field of the remnant. When they escape the charged particles are moving so fast that they are referred to as a cosmic ray.
Amazingly, physicist Enrico Fermi postulated in 1949 that high speed cosmic rays were sped up in the magnetic fields of interstellar gas clouds. Since then, scientists have focused on supernova remnants as a possible candidate for this process.
Over 60 years later, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has proven Enrico Fermi’s thinking to be true.