Dear Commons Community,
Scientists have found ‘ghost particles’ or neutrinos being emitted from within our Milky Way galaxy, an exciting discovery that may open up a new window of research. According to space.com, neutrinos are formed from radioactive decay, something that occurs in nuclear reactors, when high-energy particles strike atoms. These particles are extremely difficult to spot as they barely interact with the rest of the physical world (hence the name ghost particles). As per the BBC, the scientists used detectors at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. As reported by NDTV.
“This is the first time we’re seeing our Galaxy using particles rather than photons of light,” Prof Subir Sarkar from the University of Oxford told the BBC. This, he explained, provides a view of “high energy processes that shape our galaxy”.
“The neutrino is a ghostly particle; it’s basically almost without mass. They’re essentially moving at the speed of light and might pass through the Galaxy and not interact with anything. That is why, in order to see them, you need a massive detector,” he added.
A study giving details about the discovery has been published in the journal Science.
According to space.com, the observatory is embedded within a gigaton of ice. It encompasses 0.24 cubic miles (1 cubic kilometer) of Antarctic ice holding more than 5,000 light sensors.
These devices watch for the unique flashes of light that result from the rare instances in which neutrinos do smash into atoms, the outlet said.
The researchers focused on the plane of the Milky Way, the dense region of the galaxy that is spread around its equator. They studied a decade worth of IceCube data, analyzing 60,000 neutrinos.
Scientists have long believed that neutrinos originate from Milky Way, especially when cosmic rays strike dust and gas. But this is the first time they have made the discovery.