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Intensely Radiant Sunlight



  Aug 18, 2023

Super-Bright Sunlight


Introduction:

Scientists have been baffled by a phenomenon discovered at the HAWC observatory in Mexico. The observatory observed an excess of high-energy gamma rays from the sun over six years, leaving researchers puzzled and seeking explanations.
 

Cosmic Ray Stream:

Cosmic rays, energetic particles from space, constantly bombard Earth, but the atmosphere and magnetic field shield us from their impact. These rays are known to originate from massive stars' explosive deaths and the centers of galaxies.
 

Solar Cosmic Rays:

The sun's magnetic field deflects cosmic rays towards Earth, leading to the detection of cosmic rays from the sun. These rays sometimes interact with the sun's atmosphere, generating gamma rays, which are called solar gamma rays.
 

Puzzling Discovery:

Researchers at the HAWC Observatory detected high-energy gamma rays, called TeV-energy gamma rays, coming from the sun for the first time. The amount of these gamma rays was higher than anticipated, leading to confusion among scientists.
 

Challenges to Existing Models:

Current models of the sun's magnetic field and atmosphere cannot explain this excess energy and brightness. Scientists need to reevaluate and improve these models to account for the newfound phenomenon.
 

The Cherenkov Radiation Technique:

The HAWC Observatory detected these gamma rays using the Cherenkov radiation phenomenon. When energetic particles enter water faster than light, they emit radiation. This radiation is captured by detectors and analyzed to reveal cosmic phenomena.
 

The Solar Shadow Effect:

To identify high-energy gamma rays, researchers subtracted the effect of gamma rays blocked by the sun's presence, known as the "sun shadow." This subtraction revealed the excess gamma rays originating from the sun.
 

A Quest for Answers:

Scientists must now update or create new models that explain both the known behaviors of the sun and the newly discovered gamma ray excess. These findings hint at multiple energy-dependent components causing the phenomenon.
 

Future Exploration:

Researchers are keen to gather more data. Facilities like China's LHAASO and the Southern Wide-Field Gamma-ray Observatory in South America could provide additional insights. Future NASA probes are also expected to contribute to our understanding of the sun's mysteries


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