Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unexpected Source Of Gamma Rays Discovered In Space

Date:
March 6, 2009
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Astrophysicists have discovered a source of very high energy gamma rays in the region of the distant galaxies 3C 66A and 3C 66B. This new gamma emission, observed from the MAGIC telescope in La Palma (Canary Islands) is not consistent with what scientists expected to find, and has resulted in them suggesting three hypotheses to explain their origin.

MAGIC telescope in La Palma (Canarias).
Credit: MAGIC group

An international team of astrophysicists, involving several research groups in Spain, has discovered a source of very high energy gamma rays in the region of the distant galaxies 3C 66A and 3C 66B.

This new gamma emission, observed from the MAGIC telescope in La Palma (Canary Islands) is not consistent with what scientists expected to find, and has resulted in them suggesting three hypotheses to explain their origin.

In 2007, the MAGIC telescope, located in the Roque de los Muchachos observatory on the Canary island of La Palma, spent more than 50 hours examining the 3C 66A galaxy region, which is about 3 billion light years from Earth. The results of those observations led to the discovery of a source of very high energy gamma rays (over 150 billion electron volts), as published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters journal.

The researcher, Errando Manel, from the Institut de Fνsica d'Altes Energies (IFAE), one of the institutions involved in the study, explained to SINC that very high energy gamma rays "are a type of extremely high energy light which rarely occurs in nature". They are generally associated with violent phenomena such as supernova explosions or jets of high energy particles that form around black holes.

With regard to the data collected by MAGIC, Errando indicates that neither the position nor the properties of gamma emission exactly match what was expected from a galaxy like 3C 66A, which is considered a quasar (celestial body that emits large amounts of radiation) emitting a jet of particles that points directly towards Earth.

Scientists suggest three hypotheses for explaining this unexpected source of very high energy gamma rays, which they have called "MAGIC J0223+430", due to the celestial coordinates where they found it.

The first option is that the emission is actually from the quasar 3C 66A, assuming that its active nucleus had different properties to those attributed to it to date, or that this galaxy is not as distant as previously thought.

Another possibility, supported by data from the energy spectrum taken by MAGIC, is that the source of gamma rays comes from another far closer galaxy, 3C 66B, about three million light years from Earth. "This galaxy is similar to 3C 66A, but its jet of particles does not point directly towards us," commented Errando.

"If confirmed that the 3C 66B galaxy is the source, it would only be the second radio galaxy observed to date (the first was M87) that emits VHE gamma rays, and these types of galaxies would be established as a new source of emission of very high energy gamma rays", SINC was told by Maria Victoria Fonseca, another of the study participants from the High Energy Group at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).

The third hypothesis is that the astrophysical gamma rays do not originate from 3C 66A or 3C 66B, but rather from an unknown source not yet detected, not even by the observatories that analyse the sky at lower energies.

Over the next few years scientists will continue to study that region of space, also observed by many telescopes apart from MAGIC, to find the correct explanation.

Apart from the UCM and IFAE, also taking part in the study were the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands (IAC), the University of Barcelona (UB), University of La Laguna (ULL), the Institut de Cienciθs de l'Espai (IEEC-CSIC) and the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia (CSIC), together with other research centres in Finland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Armenia, Bulgaria and the United States.

Full bibliographic information: E. Aliu et al. (MAGIC Collaboration). “Discovery of a very high energy gamma-ray signal from the 3C 66A/B region”. The Astrophysical Journal Letters 692:L29–L33, febrero de 2009.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aliu et al. Discovery of a very high energy gamma-ray signal from the 3C 66A/B region. The Astrophysical Journal, 2009; 692 (1): L29 DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/692/1/L29

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Unexpected Source Of Gamma Rays Discovered In Space." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305150921.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2009, March 6). Unexpected Source Of Gamma Rays Discovered In Space. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305150921.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Unexpected Source Of Gamma Rays Discovered In Space." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305150921.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) — NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) — Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins