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Published June 2007 | public
Journal Article

An Overview of the Origin of Galactic Cosmic Rays as Inferred from Observations of Heavy Ion Composition and Spectra


The galactic cosmic rays arriving near Earth, which include both stable and long-lived nuclides from throughout the periodic table, consist of a mix of stellar nucleosynthesis products accelerated by shocks in the interstellar medium (ISM) and fragmentation products made by high-energy collisions during propagation through the ISM. Through the study of the composition and spectra of a variety of elements and isotopes in this diverse sample, models have been developed for the origin, acceleration, and transport of galactic cosmic rays. We present an overview of the current understanding of these topics emphasizing the insights that have been gained through investigations in the charge and energy ranges Z ≲ 30 and E/M ≲ 1 GeV/nuc, and particularly those using data obtained from the Cosmic Ray Isotope Spectrometer on NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer mission.

Additional Information

© 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Received: 7 February 2007. Accepted: 16 April 2007. Published online: 27 June 2007. We are grateful to Nathan Yanasak and Jeff George for their contributions to the ACE/CRIS data analysis and to Richard Lingenfelter and Ryan Ogliore for their comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by NASA at Caltech (under grant NAG5-12929), JPL, Washington University, and GSFC.

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October 20, 2023