nutrinos

Around a million, billion neutrinos from the Sun will pass through your body while you read this sentence.

A nutrino is a neutral sub-atomic particle of such small mass that it passes through matter undisturbed.

Its mass has never before been measured accurately and this picture is a device that was set up to detect nutrinos, as VERY ocasionaly they will colide with matter producing energy in the form of light/heat. but this energy is so small that it is virtually undetectable.

Nutrinos are formed from redioactive decay, or nuclear reactions, which is why the sun gives of so many.

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Antarctica Mission Searches for Ghostly Blue Glow from Supernova Explosions, Gamma Ray Bursts and the Big Bang

A team at the South Pole is using GPU technology to detect the blue light of colliding neutrinos submerged deep in the ice. A mile beneath Antarctica’s surface, thousands of spherical digital sensors are suspended in the ice. It would seem they have nothing to record. At that depth, the ice appears pitch black. It’s also clear; any bubbles have been pushed out by the intense pressure. It’s deathly quiet. But the sensors — which are part of the National Science Foundation-funded IceCube Project — are looking for something.

They are waiting to detect tiny charged particles that emit flashes of ghostly blue light in the dark ice. The flashes are Cherenkov radiation — the same thing that gives nuclear reactors their glow. The particles are a product of neutrinos interacting with ice, and it’s the neutrinos that the scientists are actually after. The light simply indicates where neutrinos have collided with something.

Neutrinos are perhaps the most pervasive yet least understood of the dozen fundamental particles,” said Doug Cowen, Penn State researcher and professor of physics in the Eberly College of Science. “The IceCube technology allows us to understand more about their properties and is uniquely capable of discovering the highest neutrino energies.”

Neutrinos are born from violent galactic events — supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts and the Big Bang. They’re the second most common particle in the universe (after photons) and about 100 trillion pass through the human body every second.

These particles are important because they can give scientists insight about supernovas and cosmic rays. The neutrinos travel in straight lines — by studying their energy and the direction they came from, scientists can try to trace them back to their cosmic origins.

The only problem is finding them — weakly interacting and with next to no mass, neutrinos are notoriously tricky to track down and have been nicknamed “the ghost particle.”

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TOP - This image shows the highest energy neutrino ever observed (1.14 petaelectronvolts), which scientists named ‘Ernie,’ as seen by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole on Jan. 3, 2012. Image released Nov. 21, 2013.
Credit: IceCube Collaboration

BOTTOM - This infographic explains the goal and function of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.
Credit: Dan Brennan/University of Wisconsin–Madison

Neutrino Telescopes Launch New Era of Astronomy

The recent discovery of neutrino particles bombarding Earth from outer space has ushered in a new era in neutrino astronomy, scientists say.

Neutrinos are produced when cosmic rays interact with their surroundings, yielding particles with no electrical charge and negligible mass. Scientists have wondered about the source of cosmic rays since they were discovered, and finding cosmic neutrinos could provide clues about the origin of the mysterious rays.

In November, a team of scientists announced the discovery of cosmic neutrinos by the giant IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica. 

"We now have the opportunity to determine what the sources are, if we are indeed seeing sources of cosmic rays," said Francis Halzen, principal investigator of the IceCube observatory and a theoretical physicist at theUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison. “The big difference why it’s new astronomy is that we are not using light, we are using neutrinos to look at the sky.”

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Einstein was right, neutrinos do not travel faster than light, scientists concede

A team of scientists who last year suggested neutrinos could travel faster than light conceded Friday that Einstein was right and the sub-atomic particles are - like everything else - bound by the universe’s speed limit.

Researchers working at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) caused a storm when they published experimental results showing the particles could out-pace light by some six kilometres (3.7 miles) per second.

The findings threatened to upend modern physics and smash a hole in Albert Einstein’s 1905 theory of special relativity, which described the velocity of light as the maximum speed in the cosmos.

The neutrinos were timed on the journey from CERN’s giant underground lab near Geneva to the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy, after travelling 732 kilometres through the Earth’s crust.

To do the trip, the neutrinos should have taken 0.0024 seconds. Instead, the particles were recorded as hitting the detectors in Italy 0.00000006 seconds sooner than expected, the preliminary experiment had shown.

But on Friday the OPERA team told the International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics, being held in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto, that the earlier results were wrong.

"The previous data taken up to 2011 with the neutrino beam from CERN to Gran Sasso were revised taking into account understood instrumental effects," the team said.

"A coherent picture has emerged with both previous and new data pointing to a neutrino velocity consistent with the speed of light."

The initial findings had been greeted with a combination of excitement and scepticism, even from those involved in the experiment, who urged other physicists to carry out their own checks to corroborate or refute what had been seen.

As part of this verification, an experiment called ICARUS at the Gran Sasso Laboratory took a separate look at the flight of seven neutrinos that had also been recorded by the OPERA team.

Carlo Rubbia, a Nobel winner and spokesperson for the ICARUS project announced the neutrinos had kept within the universal speed limit.