After years of research, astronomers have made a huge scientific discovery that could change the way they study the galaxy. Researchers confirmed the achievement on Thursday, July 12, in the journal Science, stating that astronomers have detected a ghost particle that has solved a century-old mystery. What exactly is a "ghost particle?" It might sound like something spooky and otherworldly, but (unfortunately) this is not confirmation that ghosts exist. Instead, it's a revelation about the galaxy.
Ghost particles are also known as "neutrinos".Neutrinos are nearly massless subatomic particles that have no electric charge and therefore interact rarely with their surroundings. Indeed, trillions of these 'ghost particles' stream through your body unnoticed and unhindered every second." Although they're all around, they are incredibly difficult to detect, and scientists have been struggling to do so for a very long time.
Why are ghost particles important? While most neutrinos come from the sun, a small percentage have extremely high energies, and were rocketed into our planet from very, very deep space out of a huge black hole. Because neutrinos are nearly impossible to detect, astronomers have not been able to find one to trace it back to where it came from — until now.
It was discovered by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole, using more than five thousand sensors buried more than a mile beneath the ice. These sensors detected one single ghostly neutrino as it interacted with an atom, and then scientists were able to trace the particle back to where it came from, which was an entirely other galaxy — a "distant blazar, a huge elliptical galaxy with a fast-spinning supermassive black hole at its heart."
Info credit: BUSTLE
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