Astronomy Today

Special Telescopes

What telescopes can be used to observe cosmic rays?

Cosmic rays are so energetic that they pass through just about any obstacle, including Earth itself. Occasionally, though, they will collide with matter in Earth’s atmosphere; the interaction causes a cascade of electromagnetic radiation to spew forth, which is called a Cherenkov shower. To study these powerful cosmic rays, astronomers have built “atmospheric Cherenkov detectors.” By analyzing the showers, scientists can deduce important properties about the cosmic rays that created them.


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