Glossary term: cosmic ray astronomy

Description: Cosmic rays are high energy atomic nuclei or protons that enter the atmosphere from space. These high energy particles collide with atoms and molecules in our own atmosphere, triggering a "shower" of secondary charged particles. Supernovae and active galactic nuclei are thought to be important sources of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays can be observed using methods similar to those used in particle physics, or by looking for flashes of gamma rays that accompany high-speed charged particles moving through the atmosphere.

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