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Where be dragons?

European cartographers between the 15th and 17th centuries often populated their illuminated world maps with fantasy islands, alien-looking native peoples, and strange sea creaturesHere be dragons was a common notation penned on the edges of some of these antique maps. Todays robot explorers of outer space are aware of dangerous dragons of the deep, too. These deep-space dragons spit viscous fires of high-energy cosmic rays.

Outbound from our solar system since the 1970s, NASA's Voyager spacecraft are on the lookout for tell sign signs of space dragons, sources of deadly cosmic rays that dart through the deeps of space at near light speeds. A big question dogs astronomers: Are any of these sources near us, possibly within our own solar system?

According to Dr. John Cooper of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., cosmic rays pose a grave danger to future space explorers; they cause cancers and can fry onboard electronic instrumentation.

The boundary where cosmic rays pierce our solar system is called the heliopause. According to Cooper, our solar system is filled with these super-fast cosmic ray particles. However, it appears that cosmic rays arent accelerated locallyby the Sunas once believed.

According to a recent news report appearing on Space Daily.com, Some (cosmic rays) are from known dragons like explosive flares on the Sun. Astronomers believe the rays with the highest energy come from the largest dragons in the universe, including exploding stars called supernova, fast-rotating collapsed objects called neutron stars with incredibly strong magnetic fields, the heaviest collapsed stars called black holes that voraciously feed on infalling matter and spit out accelerated particles, and huge magnetic shock structures ejected far into interstellar space from these stellar sources. The energy for cosmic ray acceleration in all these sources comes from twisting, writhing motions of lower-energy charged particles in turbulent magnetic fields.

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