MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cosmic rays. Artwork of cosmic rays from an energetic astronomical event (lower right) hitting Earth's atmosphere (at centre) and causing an "air shower" of subatomic particles (upper left). The air shower is produced when a cosmic ray collides with a particle high in Earth's atmosphere. The collision creates a stream of new particles, some of which collide with other atmospheric particles, giving rise to the shower effect. Detection of these showers allows information to be gathered on the source of the cosmic rays, which may be a gamma ray burst (GRB), supernova or a quasar.
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