partowhâ-ye keyhâni (#)
Fr.: rayons cosmiques
Extremely energetic atomic nuclei which travel through the Universe at practically the speed of light and strike the Earth from all direction. Almost 90% of all the incoming → primary cosmic rays are → protons, about 9% are helium nuclei (→ alpha particles) and about 1% are → electrons (beta minus particles). Some cosmic rays come from the Sun (mainly due to → solar flares), most come from galactic → supernovae, and a few with the highest energy are suspected to originate from outside the → Milky Way. As for their flux, about 1 charged particle per second per cm2 impacts the Earth. The typical kinetic energy of these particles is about 10 MeV/nucleon to several GeV/nucleon, although there are some at higher energies. In fact, the cosmic ray with the highest energy has been measured above × 1020 eV. These → ultra-high energy cosmic rays are suspected to be extragalactic, as there is no plausible mechanism of acceleration to these energies by a supernova, for example. Again, compare these energies to those of solar neutrinos that have only 0.26 MeV. Cosmic rays may be divided into → primary cosmic rays and → secondary cosmic rays. Their energy ranges from 109 to 1020 → electron-volts.
high-energy cosmic rays
partowhâ-ye keyhâni-ye meh-kâruž, ~ ~ por-kâruž
Fr.: rayons cosmiques de hautes énergies
Cosmic rays which typically have energies in the range 1015 to 1020 electron volts. For the most part, they are protons and other atomic nuclei, and come from distant cosmos, perhaps even from outside our own Galaxy.
primary cosmic rays
partowhâ-ye keyhâni-ye naxostân
Fr.: rayons cosmiques primaires
The → cosmic rays which arrive on the Earth's → atmosphere from the outer space. The primary cosmic rays are very high energy → protons and to a lesser extent heavier nuclei which rain upon the Earth from all diretions in the outer space. They contain about 90% protons, 7% → alpha particles and about 1% still heavier nuclei of amost all the atoms from Li to Ni ( → mass number< 60). See also: → secondary cosmic rays.
secondary cosmic rays
partowhâ-ye keyhâni-ye dovomân
Fr.: rayons cosmiques secondaires
A burst of secondary charged and neutral particles arising when → primary cosmic rays collide with the atmospheric oxygen or nitrogen nuclei in the upper atmosphere. The collision produces mostly → pions (π), along with some → kaons (K), → antiprotons, and → antineutrons. Neutral pions very quickly decay, usually into two → gamma rays. Charged pions also decay but after a longer time. Therefore, some of the pions may collide with yet another nucleus of the air before decaying, which would be into a → muon and a → neutrino. The fragments of the incoming nucleus also interact again, also producing new particles.
ultra-high-energy cosmic ray (UHECR)
partowhâ-ye keyhâni-ye ultar-meh-kâruž
Fr.: rayons cosmiques de très haute énergie
A particle belonging to the most energetic population of → cosmic rays with an energy above ~ 1020 → electron-volts. The UHECRs constitute a real challenge for theoretical models, because their acceleration requires extreme conditions hardly fulfilled by known astrophysical objects. See also → UHECR puzzle, → Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin cutoff.