My latest for The Daily Beast is the story of how researchers have narrowed down the region on the sky where of most of the highest-energy cosmic rays come from, though not enough to say exactly where they’re originating.
Researchers at the creatively named Telescope Array in Utah showed that a significant fraction of the most energetic protons came from the same region—a “hotspot” about 80 times the width of the full Moon.
That’s not exactly a pinpoint, but it’s still a significant find. The hotspot is about six percent of the total sky, so if the sources of cosmic rays were evenly distributed throughout the universe, you’d expect roughly six percent of the highest energy particles to come from that region. Instead, the researchers found about 25 percent came from that region, indicating they may have a common source. [Read more…]