Accelerator in the Galactic center


Researchers from the H.E.S.S. observatory discovered the source accelerating Galactic cosmic rays to unprecedented energy – the supermassive black hole. Among them were Prof. Tomasz Bulik and Mira Grudzińska from the UW Astronomical Observatory.


“Cosmic radiation” (protons, electrons and atomic nuclei) reach the Earth. It interacts with light and gas in the neighbourhood of their sources and produce gamma rays.


The H.E.S.S. (High Energy Stereoscopic System) observatory in Namibia maps the centre of our galaxy in very-high-energy gamma rays. It is run by scientists who represent 42 institutions in 12 countries. The University of Warsaw is a part of Polish consortium H.E.S.S.


Cosmic rays are high energy charged particles that come to the Earth from the cosmos. Their paths are bent by  magnetic fileds so the direction  arrival does not point to their orogin. In recent years researchers observed many accelerators tens of TeV energies, however they did’t discover the source of the highest energy Galactic cosmic rays. The key moment was the detaled observation of the region around  the supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy – Sgr A*, which has been accelerating protons continuously to PeV energies for at least a thousand years.


The article about that discovery entitled „Acceleration of petaelectronvolt protons in the Galactic Centre” was published on 16th March in “Nature”.


More information available on the website of Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Science.