“Antarctic Enigma!” Unknown Particles Beaming Into Space (“2018 Most Viewed”)

Antartica Coast

 

Neutrinos? Dark matter? A new, unknown form of matter? In October, we reported that strange events in Antarctica may be explained by supersymmetry physics according to the Penn State team that detected the mystery particle shooting into space from deep beneath the ancient South Polar ice cap.

It appears to be a high-energy particle that’s traveled through space, for billions of years crashed into the Earth, and back out again defying what physicists call the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics. But cosmic rays shouldn’t do that, and scientists began to wonder whether these mysterious beams are made of particles never seen before.

The team posted a paper outlining their argument exploring whether “Beyond the Standard Model” (BSM) particles are required to explain events detected by NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA)—a balloon-borne antenna hovering over the southern continent. The team concluded that if correctly interpreted, they are.

“An ultrahigh-energy cosmic ray on the far side of Earth could have spawned a new type of particle, about 500 times as massive as the proton, that pierced the planet before decaying to produce the upward air shower. A theoretical framework called supersymmetry offers candidates that would do the trick, said Derek Fox, an observational astrophysicist at Pennsylvania State.

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