The discovery of a pattern of X-ray “stripes” in the remains of an exploded star may provide the first direct evidence that a cosmic event can accelerate particles to energies a hundred times higher than achieved by the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth.
This result comes from a very long observation of the Tycho supernova remnant with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. It could explain how some of the extremely energetic particles bombarding the Earth, called cosmic rays, are produced. “We've seen lots of intriguing structures in supernova remnants, but we’ve never seen stripes before,” said Kristoffer Eriksen of Rutgers University, who led the study. “This made us think very hard about what's happening in the blast wave of this powerful explosion.