Hands-on at this exhibit

  • Construct a 3D model of a cosmic ray shower.
  • Help calibrate a cosmic ray detector.
  • Measure the cosmic rays reaching the exhibition.

The origins of cosmic rays remain shrouded in mystery despite a century passing since their discovery.

Investigate the mysterious origins of strange energies that rain down on the Earth with the cosmic ray detectives in this short video.

Cosmic rays interact with our planet’s atmosphere, and in doing so their energy is changed and they are deflected by the magnetic field. Our exhibit shows how we’re working with researchers to detect cosmic rays, revealing clues about their galactic origins.

Cosmic rays are comprised of charged particles, mostly protons, which rain down on our planet from outer space. The particles collide with nuclei in Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating even more particles which shower down across areas of up to 20 km2. The highest energy rays must come from outside our galaxy, perhaps from supermassive black holes. International research network HiSparc (High School Project on Astrophysics Research with Cosmics) is investigating their source, by collecting data from cosmic ray detectors built by schools and installed on their roofs.

This exhibit has been funded by a Royal Society Partnership Grant.

Lead image: What are the galactic origins of cosmic rays which rain down on our planet from outer space? Credit: © loops7/istock.