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Tech & Science Antarctic Experiment Reveals Strange 'Ghost' Particles That Physicists Can't Explain

09:15  15 january  2020
09:15  15 january  2020 Source:   sciencealert.com

Antarctic Experiment Reveals Strange 'Ghost' Particles That Physicists Can't Explain

  Antarctic Experiment Reveals Strange 'Ghost' Particles That Physicists Can't Explain When physicists detected signals of high-energy neutrinos coming from a rather unlikely direction in the cosmos, they naturally went looking for a powerful source that might explain it. An intense examination of the most likely origins of these more reactive forms of 'ghost' particles has now come up empty-handed, opening the way for more exotic speculations over what might be behind the odd signals. Trawling through seven years of data from the neutrino-hunting IceCube experiment, a large team of researchers from around the globe are now forced to admit conventional explanations for the discovery are looking pretty weak.

Physicists are hunting for a particle that they hope could clue us in on some of the biggest mysteries in the universe. IceCube isn’ t the first experiment in which scientists have turned up empty handed in the hunt for the It consists of 5,160 light detecting sensors frozen in a billion tons of Antarctic ice

So, a few physicists concocted a brand-new particle out of whole cloth. Physicists noticed that decay reactions that suggested the existence of the neutrino always had an electron pop out, and To explain these findings, they reasoned that neutrinos always matched up with electrons in these decay

  Antarctic Experiment Reveals Strange 'Ghost' Particles That Physicists Can't Explain © Icecube/NSF

When physicists detected signals of high-energy neutrinos coming from a rather unlikely direction in the cosmos, they naturally went looking for a powerful source that might explain it.

An intense examination of the most likely origins of these more reactive forms of 'ghost' particles has now come up empty-handed, opening the way for more exotic speculations over what might be behind the odd signals.

Trawling through seven years of data from the neutrino-hunting IceCube experiment, a large team of researchers from around the globe are now forced to admit conventional explanations for the discovery are looking pretty weak.

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Physicists call them “ ghost particles .” To capture these elusive entities, physicists have conducted some extraordinarily ambitious experiments . So that neutrinos aren’ t confused with cosmic rays (subatomic particles from outer space that do not penetrate the earth), detectors are installed

Michigan State University. "' Ghost particles ' could improve understanding the universe." ScienceDaily. 13, 2016 — Physicists are part of the huge NOvA Neutrino Experiment that just published two articles about the first experimental observations of muon neutrinos changing to

Neutrinos are electron-like members of the Standard Model of fundamental particles. Unlike electrons, they have insanely small masses and no charge.

This slim-bodied neutrality means neutrinos don't care to stop and chat with other particles. Atomic decay deep inside the Sun sends torrents of them through the planet every second, with only a fraction passing close enough to an atom to cause a noticeable response.

To catch the rare flash of a neutrino smashing into a frozen water molecule, the IceCube observatory uses long strings of sensitive light-capturing equipment buried under Antarctic ice.

For nearly a decade, it has been recording hundreds of flashes per day, building a vast database of information on the directions and energies of neutrinos washing over Earth.

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Ghost -like particles known as neutrinos have been puzzling scientists for decades. Part of the family of fundamental particles that make up all known matter "In order to get a measurable signal from the tiny fraction of neutrinos that do interact, neutrino physicists need to build extremely large detectors

There are experiments set up to observe those signals, like the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) experiment on a large balloon. The team also found corroborating evidence for these strange particles in the IceCube experiment buried in the Antarctic ice.

But it's not the only game in town. From an altitude of nearly 40 kilometres above the Antarctic, suspended from a helium balloon, NASA's Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) captures hints of neutrinos with ridiculously high energies smashing into atoms in the atmosphere.

It's still early days for ANITA, but already its first few flights over the past couple of years have successfully spotted several tell-tale flashes of the energetic particles. Strangely, two of the signals have come not from the empty sky above, but up through the planet itself.

For a lazy neutrino fresh from the Sun, this wouldn't be all that surprising. But at the kinds of energies recorded by ANITA, neutrinos become real socialites, merging with our planet's atoms at a much higher rate to leave very few untouched.

"It's commonly said that neutrinos are 'elusive' or 'ghostly' particles because of their remarkable ability to pass through material without smashing into something," says astrophysicist Alex Pizzuto from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the US.

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When physicists announced in 2012 that they had indeed discovered the Higgs boson, it was not the end of physics . The Higgs boson was the last missing piece of the Standard Model, which explains all we know about subatomic particles and forces.

Particle physics is one of the most interesting fields in physics . Although there are many different particles already, researchers continue to postulate. To explain why dark matter is invisible to observation, physicists speculated that another fundamental force is acting on dark matter.

"But at these incredible energies, neutrinos are like bulls in a china shop – they become much more likely to interact with particles in Earth."

Finding a couple of 'bullish' neutrinos making it all the way through the planet demands some kind of explanation.

Of course, they could just be chance discoveries of incredibly rare examples. Being so lucky isn't out of the question. But it's far more likely that the particles detected had struck the planet as part of a massive crowd.

High-energy neutrinos tend to be born in interactions between cosmic rays and atomic nuclei, before being given a hard push by strong magnetic fields deep out in the cosmos.

Because of this, the researchers worked out the statistics on how many high-energy neutrinos it would take to have a good chance of ANITA spotting them, and dug through IceCube's data to find potential events that could be responsible for making them in high numbers.

"This process makes IceCube a remarkable tool to follow up the ANITA observations, because for each anomalous event that ANITA detects, IceCube should have detected many, many more," says physicist Anastasia Barbano of the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

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  Gold Coast polar explorer breaks record for longest unaided Antarctic trip Geoff Wilson skied into the Russia's Novolazarevskaya Station early on Saturday, Antarctic time, 58 days after he set out, beating the previous record by 206 metres. "I was thrilled to be alive, overjoyed to be done and waves of relief washed over me as I stood almost stunned in a colourful isolated Russian outpost, the wind screaming through it," Dr Wilson wrote on his blog, The Longest Journey. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.

During the experiments in Antarctica , physicists found something unexplainable, something that could change everything we think we know about physics . Thanks to the Standard Model, physicists have known that cosmic rays are capable of reaching and penetrating Earth.

That could be explained , said Nikitenko, if more “background” particles are produced at higher energies that then obscure the signal. Because the analysis is so time-consuming, it could take the CMS team another year to confirm or rule out the existence of a new particle .

"Which, in these cases, we didn't."

So, where to now then?

First off, it's worth keeping in mind that even the most well-funded, professional experiments can be susceptible to errors.

Less than a decade ago, there was a flurry of excitement over the possibility of finding neutrinos moving faster than light … a finding that was tested at length, before being found to be more than likely a mistake.

The new findings are currently available on the pre-print site arXiv.org, with a submission underway to The Astrophysical Journal, where the results will receive greater scrutiny from the scientific community.

But there are a few tantalising possibilities we can consider even now, and even dare to imagine explanations outside of established physics.

"Our analysis ruled out the only remaining Standard Model astrophysical explanation of the anomalous ANITA events," says Pizzuto.

"So now, if these events are real and not just due to oddities in the detector, then they could be pointing to physics beyond the Standard Model."

One possibility is cosmic accelerators pumping out bursts of neutrinos at time scales too brief for scientists to catch with current technology.

If we want to really get wild, we might even consider a role for dark matter, or imagine new kinds of particles that act like high-energy neutrinos but are produced in other ways.

There's a lot of room for questions, and right now our search for neutrino secrets is still in its infancy. With so much to learn, a lot of hope is being pinned on neutrinos providing insight into big mysteries that could lead the way to new physics.

IceCube and ANITA will no doubt be looking out for more of these puzzling high-energy 'ghosts', in the hope of pushing the limits on physics.

The pre-print paper is available at arXiv.org.

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