New publication on Neon, Magnesium, and Silicon in Cosmic Rays

Our new results obtained with the AMS experiment onboard the Space Station are published: The paper presents new measurements of the energy spectra for Ne, Mg, and Si in cosmic rays. These spectra reveal features not predicted by existing cosmic-ray models. Improving these models should lead to a better understanding of the supernovae that produce and accelerate cosmic rays and of the interstellar medium, through which they travel. Cosmic-ray nuclei carry information on supernovae, on the processes that forged the elements, and on the structure of our Galaxy and of the interstellar medium—information that researchers hope to extract by analyzing spectra for each cosmic-ray element. All known chemical elements are present in cosmic rays, but their prevalence generally decreases with increasing atomic number, reflecting the scarcity of heavier elements in the cosmos. So far, precise spectra have been obtained for the elements from hydrogen to oxygen; measurements of heavier-element spectra have error bars as large as 20%. With such poor data to work with, researchers haven’t previously learned much from these elements’ spectra. These new results now give theorists a lot of work to do, and they are “opening an entirely new window” on precision cosmic-ray spectroscopy.