Neutrinos discovered deep in Antarctica

A team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have confirmed that neutrinos found at the South Pole actually originated from outside the Milky Way.
By Dirk Trudeau | Aug 21, 2015
An observatory tucked away at the southernmost point on the planet has discovered massless, otherworldly particles that very likely originated from beyond our own galaxy. According to a report from NBC, the discovery all but confirms the existence of cosmic neutrinos, and offers new clues into where the strange particles came from.

The neutrinos were discovered at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, which is composed of 86 shafts that reach 8,000 feet into the ice near the South Pole. Each shaft is fitted with detectors that search for light signatures from high-energy particles blasting through the ice from deep space.

Neutrinos are particles with nearly no mass, and can shoot through matter with ease. They are thought to originate from sources with a ton of energy, like exploding stars, galactic cores, and black holes.

Neutrinos rarely interact with matter, but when they manage to hit an atomic nucleus every now and again, they generate a particle called a muon. Scientists typically search for muons, which move faster than the speed of light through a solid and create their own light waves, called Cherenkov radiation.

The IceCube Observatory discovered neutrinos from places far outside our own galaxy in 2013, but a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison needed to verify that they didn't come from our own sun first. They examined neutrinos coming from all different directions and at the same rate, which meant they were acting independently of Earth's orbit. This means that they almost certainly came from a point outside of our own solar system.

The discovery has made scientists extremely happy, as they can now confirm that these particles bombarding the Earth have origins elsewhere in the universe. The team will continue to examine data from the observatory in an effort to learn more about the strange cosmic particles.


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