Northern Kentucky University
CREST: The Cosmic Ray Electron Synchrotron Telescope
There is strong indirect evidence for the supernova shock acceleration of galactic cosmic-ray electrons through observations of non-thermal X-rays and TeV gamma rays from supernova remnants. To date, no cosmic ray electron measurements have been made at energies greater than 2 TeV. Since high-energy electrons lose energy rapidly during propagation in the Galaxy through synchrotron and inverse Compton processes, TeV electrons reaching the solar system have to originate at distances < 1 kpc, thus the detection of high-energy electrons would yield information about the spatial distribution of nearby cosmic ray sources. The balloon-borne CREST experiment will detect high-energy electrons by measuring the X-ray synchrotron photons generated by these electrons in the Earth's magnetic field. This method achieves very large detector apertures, since the instrument need only intersect a portion of the line of photons (which extend over hundreds of meters of space) and not necessarily the electron itself.