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IceCube Observatory - High Speed Neutrinos

Unidentified high energy particles detected

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During an experiment at the IceCube Observatory in the South Pole, two neutrinos were captured with very high energy as never before seen which is believed to have come from somewhere outside our Galaxy.

Neutrinos are electrically neutral subatomic particles carrying no electric charge at all, making them unaffected by electromagnetic forces. Most of the neutrinos that come through Earth have the Sun as their origin, and because of their size and ‘weak’ nature, neutrinos pass through matter with nothing blocking their way.

Those neutrinos detected at the IceCube Observatory are unlike anything scientists have ever seen and although they were announced in 2012, they were recently studied in much more depth. To have an idea of the energy of those particles, imagine that their energy is 100 million times more than the neutrinos emitted by a supernova that have reached Earth.

The origins of those neutrinos are unknown at the moment but a speculation is that they may originate from a collapsing star or an active galactic nuclei (which is a region at the centre of the galaxy with much higher than normal luminosity) where the radiation may be a result of a super massive black hole at the center of the galaxy.

The way in which the IceCube detectors work is that they pick up the light that is emitted when particles come through the detectors. This is the first time that scientists will be able to observe and investigate neutrino particles emitted by sources outside our Galaxy. Impressive isn’t it!

By John Black

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