How Cosmic-ray Protons Make Gamma rays

  • Released Saturday, February 13, 2010

In the simplest and most common interaction, a cosmic-ray proton strikes another proton. The protons survive the collision, but their interaction creates an unstable particle — a pion — with only 14 percent the mass of a proton. In 10 millionths of a billionth of a second, the pion decays into a pair of gamma-ray photons. More complex scenarios occur when cosmic-ray protons strike nuclei containing greater numbers of particles.



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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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This page was originally published on Saturday, February 13, 2010.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:54 PM EDT.


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