The first cosmic neutrinos – “ghost” particles created by violent incidents on the outskirts of the universe – were discovered in the South Pole by an international team of astrophysicists.
Neutrinos, cosmic ray products with tiny, almost non-existent mass, are elementary particles like electrons but lack electric charge.
According to a study published in the journal Science, the researchers detected through the detector IceCube 28 neutrinos from deep space in a glacier in Antarctica.
These are the first particles outside our solar system observed during the last 26 years, and the discovery is believed to open a new chapter in the history of astronomy.
Still, the 28 neutrinos discovered by the IceCube detector are considered extremely important because they have much higher energy coming from sources at the edge of the universe that have not been discovered yet.
According to the scientists, their energy is billions of times greater than the energy of solar neutrinos coming from a “nuclear furnace” of the Sun, so what created them is incredibly powerful and mysterious.
To find the particles, the scientists constructed a detector named IceCube, in a cubic kilometer of ice in Antarctica. Having created holes in the ice, the researchers placed 5,000 light sensors at depths of 1.5 to 2.5 kilometers.
Neutrinos interact with the nucleus and when this happens, collisions generate an avalanche of charged particles that emit light. Thus, the sensors detect the light, and the more intense it is, the greater the energy of the neutrino is.
The IceCube detector started looking for neutrinos in 2010. Since the beginning of the research, the scientists have discovered 28 neutrinos with energies greater than 30 teraelectronvolts.
The discovery is considered extremely important because it can help us better understand the physics and the world that surrounds us.
“This is the most important project in the world particle physics. After collecting more data, it is likely to be able to discover the source of energy neutrinos in the next decade,” said Dr. Naoko Kurahashi Neilson, who participates in the research program together with the other 250 physicists and engineers from dozens of countries.
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