On Sept. 22, 2017, a ghostly particle ejected from a far distant supermassive black hole zipped down from the sky and through the ice of Antarctica at just below the speed of light, with an energy of some 300 trillion electron volts, nearly 50 times the energy delivered by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the biggest particle accelerator on Earth.
In 2018 a team of physicists linked to the massive IceCube Observatory detector buried under the South Pole, and to a command center at Penn State University, advanced satellites, and several land-based observatories, pinpointed the first known cosmic source of a neutrino, a ghost-like particle that passes through virtually all matter on Earth. It’s estimated that each second there are about 100 billion neutrinos passing through your body. (more…)
In 2010, astronomers working with the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way that spans 50,000 light-years that may be the remnant of an eruption from the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. The structure spans more than half of the visible sky, a region roughly as large as the Milky Way itself, and it may be millions of years old, its origin an unsolved mystery.
Strange events at the South Pole are more easily explained by new physics, says says Derek Fox, an observational astrophysicist at Pennsylvania State University. Like the opening scene of a Hugo-winning science fiction novel, scientists have detected a 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, scientists began to wonder whether these mysterious beams are made of particles never seen before.