caption An illustration of a blazar, or spinning black hole that gobbles up matter and shoots out jets of high-energy radiation and particles. source DESY/Science Communication Lab The origin of the universe’s most powerful cosmic rays, or high-speed particles, has been difficult to determine for decades. Astronomers recently used ghostly particles called neutrinos to verify the source of high-energy cosmic rays. IceCube, a huge detector embedded in the ice of Antarctica, led to the discovery. Enormous, rapidly spinning black holes called blazars appear to emit cosmic rays. Astronomers say they’ve more or less confirmed a key source of cosmic rays – some of the highest-energy yet most enigmatic radiation in the universe – with the detection of a single “ghostly” particle in Antarctica. Cosmic rays were discovered more than 100 years ago, but their origins are tough to know for sure because they can be deflected en route to Earth, and our planet’s atmosphere absorbs most of them. Researchers detected the “ghost” particle, or neutrino, in September 2017 using IceCube, a huge array of sensors embedded deep in the ice of Antarctica. The neutrino was unusually energetic, and when scientists tracked the particle back to its source, they found a… Read full this story
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