The most violent and energetic phenomena in the Universe include gamma-ray bursts, supernova explosions, black holes, neutron stars, and the as yet unidentified cosmic accelerators which produce the highest energy photons and cosmic rays.
Supernova remnants (SNRs) have long been considered the primary sites for the acceleration of cosmic rays up to 10 TeV. The evidence lending support to this belief is based on several strong arguments. First, supernova blast shock are one of the few galactic sites capable of sustaining the cosmic ray population against loss by escape and nuclear interactions.
Jets and shocks are important topics in modern astrophysics. Newly-formed stars eject highly collimated jets of gas into molecular clouds. When a massive star explodes, its rapidly expanding atmosphere produces a shock wave in the surrounding material. SSP scientists use observations and theory to study the formation and evolution of jets and shocks.
Theoretical studies support astronomical observations at all wavelengths, directly address topics of astrophysical importance, and pursue related studies in fundamental physics and atmospheric science.
At the very centers of all large galaxies there lies a supermassive black hole, a million to a billion times the mass of our Sun. 90% of the time these supermassive black holes are quiet - emitting almost no light from their close environs.