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HAWC observatory to study the most energetic phenomena known

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Supernovae, neutron star collisions and active galactic nuclei are among the most energetic phenomena in the known universe.
These violent explosions produce high-energy gamma rays and cosmic rays, which can easily travel large distances, making it possible to see objects and events far outside our own galaxy.
Construction is now complete on the newest tool available to study these explosive events and learn more about the nature of high-energy radiation. The High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-Ray Observatory, located 13,500 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mexico’s Volcán Sierra Negra, will soon begin collecting data at full capacity. The milestone was marked with an inaugural event at the observatory last week.
“The HAWC observatory will detect the highest energy photons ever observed,” said Brenda Dingus, the principal investigator of the U.S. Department of Energy funding for HAWC and a research fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “These photons point back to astrophysical sources that accelerate particles to energies millions of times higher than man-made particle accelerators. These photons could also be produced by dark matter, which would tell us about these as yet unknown type of fundamental particles that compose most of the mass of the universe.”


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