'Just over ten years ago, NASA-affiliated researchers set out to observe cosmic rays showering down on Earth from above. During the experiments in Antarctica, physicists found something unexplainable, something that could change everything we think we know about physics.
The Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) balloon experiment began in 2006 when the balloon spent a month hovering over Antarctica’s ice. Using sensors, ANITA began detecting high energy neutrinos interacting with the ice sheet below.
Neutrinos are unique in that they don’t lose energy as they disseminate throughout the universe. Because of this, neutrinos are capable of providing humans with a peek into the vast expanse of the universe that would otherwise be unavailable.
According to Motherboard, the Soviet physicist Gurgen Askaryan once theorized that “when a high energy particle interacted with a dense dielectric medium—a type of insulating material that doesn’t conduct electricity—it would produce a shower of secondary charged particles whose radiation can be detected by standard radio antennas. This interaction, now known as the Askaryan effect, allows physicists to detect particles that hardly interact with normal matter (like neutrinos) by observing their secondary effects.”
During ANITA’s time in the Antarctic, it detected never before seen “upward-pointing cosmic-ray-like events.” The rays detected had horizontal planes of polarization, which may suggest they didn’t originate in space. The detection of these events means a new type of particle may have been evading detection by sophisticated particle accelerators since we began using sophisticated particle accelerators.
Thanks to the Standard Model, physicists have known that cosmic rays are capable of reaching and penetrating Earth. However, according to the model, those rays shouldn’t be able to pass all the way through our planet. So are the anomalous high energy particles measured by ANITA originating from Earth, or are they actually passing through it?
Some existing physics models that exist beyond the Standard Model involve theories that the interactions between cosmic rays and ice actually produce micro black holes that open into small dimensions. ANITA’s first mission didn’t detect the black holes, but it did detect the Askaryan effect.'
Read more: Bizarre Cosmic Rays Are Shooting Out of Antarctica and Physicists Can’t Explain It
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