April 15, 2013 7:20:33 pm
Hawc gamma-ray telescope,which aims to capture the Universe’s highest-energy particles and light,has snapped its first-ever image.
The picture of the shadow cast by the Moon as it blocks the light and particles was presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society.
The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (Hawc),located on flanks of the Sierra Negra volcano near Puebla,Mexico,now holds the record for the highest-energy light it can capture.
Hawc is currently made of 30 detectors,but it will comprise some 300 by 2014. Each one is a 7.3m-diameter,4m-high tank filled with pure water,’BBC News’ reported.
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Located at an altitude of 4100 meters,HAWC will be used to perform a high-sensitivity synoptic survey of the sky at wavelengths between 100 GeV and 100 TeV.
However,its detectors do not capture the cosmic rays and gamma rays directly.
When the cosmic rays and gamma rays smash into molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere,they set off a cascade of other fast-moving particles.
While the speed of light in a vacuum cannot be exceeded,the speed in matter can be much slower.
When the fast-moving particles created in the atmosphere break this speed limit inside the water of the Hawc tanks,they give off flashes of light that detectors at the tanks’ bottoms can catch,the report said.
Particles and light with these blistering energies give insights into the most violent processes the cosmos hosts,from the leftovers of supernovas to super-massive black holes eating matter.
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