This is How the Earth Stops High-Energy Particles

Scientists for the first time, have demonstrated the Earth’s ability to stop highly energetic neutrino particles.


In 2015, scientists detected Neutrinos, high-energy particles (subatomic) that are formed from violent collisions like black holes. They help scientists to examine the universe indirectly and are renowned for their ability to pass through almost anything – even the Earth.

According to an estimate, almost 100 trillion these high-energy particles pass through the human body every second.

Now, in a new study conducted by University of Oxford’s Department of Physics, scientists collected the first evidence of the Earth’s ability to absorb them at high energies.

This is How the Earth Stops High-Energy Particles
The IceCube Lab with Milky Way and aurora australis, July 2014 Image Credit: Ian Rees, IceCube/NSF

They collected the data by studying neutrino interactions at the IceCube South Pole Observatory. Using the IceCube ‘telescope’, scientists instrumented estimated neutrino’s directions and energies. Its sensors do not directly observe neutrinos, but instead measure flashes of blue light, known as Cherenkov radiation, which is created when neutrinos interact with the ice.

Scientists observed almost 10,800 very energetic neutrino interactions while traveling from space through the Earth. Scientists detected only fewer energetic neutrinos making it all the way through the Earth.

Scientists then move towards knowing how neutrinos are absorbed by the Earth. Their results showed that the probability of neutrinos being absorbed was consistent with expectations from the Standard Model of particle physics, also known as fundamental forces and particles in the universe.

This likelihood, that neutrinos of a given vitality will cooperate with the issue, is the thing that physicists allude to as a “cross area”. It is required to increment with vitality in a measurable way.

Francis Halzen, principal investigator for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory said, “Understanding how neutrinos interact is key to the operation of IceCube. We were, of course, hoping for some new physics to appear, but we, unfortunately, find that the Standard Model, as usual, withstands the test.”

Scientists calculated the probability of neutrino interactions with matter at energies well beyond those measured previously using accelerator neutrino beams. This calculation made use of crucial measurements of Parton distribution functions’ at the HERA accelerator in Hamburg.

Professor Subir Sarkar, Head of the Particle Theory Group said, “It is marvelous that even when the Earth blocks our ability to do astronomy using neutrinos as cosmic messengers, we can instead measure a fundamental physical property of neutrinos.”

The team intends to repeat the study using expanded multiyear data, to collate any hints of new physics beyond the Standard Model.


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