Tim Linden
Tim Linden. Image credit: Tim Linden

Contrary to visible light, which is produced by relatively average stars (like our Sun), the highest-energy particles, including gamma-ray photons and cosmic rays, are only produced in the most extreme environments, such as supernovae, neutron stars, and black holes. The project will take advantage of recent high-energy observations to understand extreme objects in our galaxy. It will also require significant computational modeling to model the birth, propagation, and energy losses of the various particles.

“This study builds on a recent discovery by our research group, which found that rapidly rotating neutron stars produce large “halos” of gamma-ray emission that can extend over 100 light years from the central source,” says Linden. “These objects, which we named “TeV halos”, have an unexpected spectrum and morphology, which suggests that they constitute a transition between the environment that immediately surrounds highly energetic sources, and the ‘standard’ interstellar medium of the Milky Way. By understanding the dynamics of this transition, we can learn how energetic sources “construct” the turbulent magnetic environment of the Milky Way from the ground up. This will have important implications for our understanding of galactic dynamics.”