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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Sir Arnold Wolfendale

Erlykin, A. D. & Wolfendale, A. W. (2005). The origin of cosmic rays. Journal of Physics G-nuclear and Particle Physics 31(12): 1475-1498.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

It is generally regarded that the bulk of cosmic rays originate in the
galaxy and that those below the 'knee' (the rapid steepening in the
energy spectrum) at a few PeV, come from galactic supernovae, the
particles being accelerated by the shocks in the supernova remnants. At
higher energies, there are problems in that conventional SNR-which
surely constitute the bulk of the sources-have a natural limit at a few
tens of PeV (for iron nuclei). The question of the origin of particles
above this limit is thus an open one. Here we examine a number of
possibilities: a variety of supernovae and hypernovae, pulsars, a giant
galactic halo and an extragalactic origin. A relevant property of any
model is the extent to which it can provide the lack of significant
irregularity of the energy spectrum, its intensity and shape together
with structures such as the 'second knee' at the sub-EeV energy, in
addition to the well-known 'knee' and 'ankle'. Although it is
appreciated that spectral measurements are subject to systematic as
well as random errors, we consider that contemporary data are good
enough to allow at least some progress in this new field. These aspects
are examined for particles of all energies and it is shown that they
can constrain some parameters of the proposed models. In the search for
origin above PeV g energies, we conclude that shocks in the galactic
halo, whatever their source (galactic wind, relativistic
plasmoids-'cannonballs', multiple shocks from supernovae etc) are most
likely, pulsars such as B0656+14 and hypernovae come a close second
although such a suggestion is not without its difficulties. What is
most important is that trapping of particles it? the halo is needed to
reduce irregularities of the energy spectra both below and above the
'knee' caused by the stochastic nature of supernova explosions and
other potential (discrete) galactic sources. We argue that precise
experimental studies of spectral 'irregularities' will provide
considerable help in the search for cosmic ray origin.

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