Astronomers Investigate Mysterious Ultra-High Energy Source in Deep Space

Astronomers Investigate Mysterious Ultra-High Energy Source in Deep Space

The fidings might just unlock secrets of the universe's most powerful emissions.


In an exciting venture, teams from the University of Maryland and Michigan Technological University have turned their telescopes toward an enigmatic ultra-high energy source. Their findings might just unlock secrets of the universe’s most powerful emissions.

Gamma radiation often hides many of the universe’s secrets. There are two major types: very-high energy (VHE) sources with photon energies ranging between 100 GeV and 100 TeV, and ultra-high energy (UHE) sources which have photon energies surpassing 0.1 PeV. Despite their fascinating properties, these cosmic energy behemoths remain cloaked in mystery. Astronomers, hungry for knowledge, are always on the lookout for such sources to dissect and understand.

Shedding Light on Unknown Cosmic Emissions

Sajan Kumar, spearheading a team from the University of Maryland, trained their sights on a particular UHE gamma-ray source named LHAASO J2108+5157. This intriguing object, a compact source with less than 0.39-degree extension, is closely tied to a molecular cloud situated a whopping 10,700 light-years from us.


Prior studies turned up no X-ray buddies for LHAASO J2108+5157. Instead, an eclipsing binary was the closest X-ray source spotted. Without the presence of dominant pulsars or remnants of supernovae nearby, pinpointing the gamma-ray’s birthplace becomes a real challenge. Both hadronic and leptonic models stand as viable explanations.

To bring clarity, Kumar’s crew took a dual approach. They employed both the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) and the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC) for a clearer picture of the UHE gamma-rays originating from this source.

New Discoveries Illuminate Emission Origins

Interestingly, their quest didn’t uncover any prominent emission tied to LHAASO J2108+5158’s location. They did, however, perform in-depth spectral analysis around LHAASO J2108+5157. Results were consistent with prior research, leaning towards the leptonic model. Yet, the plot thickened with the recent spotting of another molecular cloud near LHAASO J2108+5157. This new discovery now correlates with LHAASO J2108+5157’s gamma-ray output.


“This likely suggests that these gamma rays emerge from the hadronic channel. The molecular cloud seems to be a prime target for cosmic ray particles, pushed by unidentified PeVatrons,” stated the research team. But the mystery doesn’t end here. They believe further explorations, especially with CTA and X-ray band analysis, are essential to comprehensively fathom LHAASO J2108+5157’s true nature.

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Written by Justin Gurkinic

Hey, my name is Justin, and my friends call me Gurk. Why? Becuase of my last name. It sounds like a vegetable. Kind of. I love sleeping and writing. History is my thing.

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