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Physicists Spot Potential Source of 'Oh-My-God' Particles 144

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the giant-alien-particle-acceleration-experiment dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes For decades, physicists have sought the sources of the most energetic subatomic particles in the universe — cosmic rays that strike the atmosphere with as much energy as well-thrown baseballs. Now, a team working with the Telescope Array, a collection of 507 particle detectors covering 700 square kilometers of desert in Utah, has observed a broad 'hotspot' in the sky in which such cosmic rays seem to originate. Although not definitive, the observation suggests the cosmic rays emanate from a distinct source near our galaxy and not from sources spread all over the universe.
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Physicists Spot Potential Source of 'Oh-My-God' Particles

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  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @09:18AM (#47415035) Homepage
    For those of us scientists who hold Christ-gods and sky friends as important in our lives as an empty roll of shit-tickets or takeaway flyers:

    God Particle: the Higgs Boson.
    Oh-My-God Particle: ultra-high-energy cosmic ray (most likely a proton) detected on the evening of 15 October 1991 over Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

    other particles we find similar to it could be given normal names like UHE particles, or super high energy rays but that doesnt secure grant funding in the theocratic Mormon state of Utah.
  • by bunratty (545641) on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @09:26AM (#47415103)
    Ironically, these particles are named after exclamations. The God Particle was the name of a book originally titled The Goddamn Particle because the Higgs boson was so hard to find. A better name for the Oh-My-God Particle may be the Oh-Shit! Particle. The names have nothing to do with religion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @09:59AM (#47415471)

    Collisions between matter and antimatter in space produce a lot of gamma rays of specific energies corresponding to the energy equivalence of the mass of the particles involved (not exclusively at those energies, but a lot there still). This has allowed scientists to characterize collisions between gas clouds and antimatter in areas around our galaxy, but they involve very, very small amounts of antimatter spread out over a large volume.

    As far as the discovery that these high energy particles might be coming from some place close, this was somewhat expected as the GZK limit [wikipedia.org] describes a process of high energy particles interacting with CMB photons to pair produce and lose energy, limiting the energy of high energy cosmic rays that travel a long distance. Unfortunately, that could mean there a lack of new physics involved at the cosmic ray energy, much in the same way that confirming a single Higgs particle is a boring outcome not hinting at post-Standard Model physics.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @12:09PM (#47416735)
    The GZK limit predicts essentially a drag force on particles above a very large energy limit. Cosmic rays above this limit have been seen for some time now. This means either the particles come from somewhere close, before they have a chance to lose a lot of their energy, or they come from somewhere far away and the limit is wrong. Previous data was starting to lean toward the latter, with hotspots matching up with distance sources that match early theories on what could produce such high energy particles. Now those previous results didn't pan out, and these results are pointing more toward the former option, that such particles come from some place close and that the limit may still be valid.
  • Re:Alien Spacecraft (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2014 @02:27PM (#47418159)

    http://www.baenebooks.com/chapters/0671878794/0671878794___2.htm

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