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Saturday, 29 December 2012

Supernova Shock Waves—Powerhouses of the Galaxy

Yasunobu Uchiyama, a scientist with the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at SLAC, delivered the Nov. 27 SLAC Public Lecture, "Supernova Shock Waves: Powerhouses of the Galaxy."

Uchiyama's talk highlights the powerful remnants of exploding stars, called supernovae, which are among the universe's most spectacular pyrotechnics displays.

For thousands of years after a supernova explosion, massive orbs of high-energy particles with strong magnetic fields remain confined by the expanding shock wave. These remnants "are among the most beautiful and mysterious objects in the cosmos," notes Uchiyama, a member of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Large Area Telescope collaboration who has expertise in supernova remnants.

The Fermi space telescope allows researchers to study supernova remnants in many wavelengths, from visible light to radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays. Uchiyama describes Fermi telescope observations that reveal how supernova remnants act as giant particle accelerators, spewing high-energy cosmic rays. Lecturer: Yasunobu Uchiyama, SLAC

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