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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old April 25 2013, 10:51 PM   #1
YellowSubmarine
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Most powerful intergalactic neutrinos ever detected

Breaking news: Today The Bad Astronomer posted his first article ever with a sensationalist title. Neutrinos are on their way to board and plunder the Earth.

Ultra-high-energy neutrinos detected, almost certainly coming from another galaxy

The neutrinos had about 1 PeV of energy, which is quite a lot for a subatomic particle, and gargantuan for a neutrino, as Phil Plait put it:
And that’s where IceCube has come through. Out of the countless detections it’s seen, two of them—nicknamed, seriously, Bert and Ernie—were phenomenally, unbelievably energetic: Each had an energy over one thousand trillion times the energy of a visible light photon. That’s huge, far larger energies than even the Large Hadron Collider can create. It’s very roughly equivalent to the energy of a raindrop hitting you on the head… which may not sound like much, but remember we’re taking about a single subatomic particle with that much energy. That’s phenomenal!
Obviously, very energetic particles are not unprecedented, the Oh My God particle from 1991, for example, was 300000 PeV, but for a neutrino even 1 PeV is huge. This particle was travelling unbelievably close to the speed of light, and depending on what neutrino masses actually are, it could be outrunning Oh My God by a huge margin. (Comparison of potential speeds)

I am not sure how unlikely this event is, actually. On one hand, neutrinos are much more difficult to detect, which makes it damn unlikely to pick particles like this, on the other hand neutrinos have almost no interaction with other particles during their interstellar trip, which could allow them to retain their speed and therefore there could be more of them.

Still, if memory serves me right, the other ultra-high-energy particles that we've detected were from our galaxy (correct me if I am wrong), and this one is actually from another galaxy (99% certain).

Strangely, this made me more hopeful for intergalactic communication. I don't know what most of this means, and even worse, the particles are coming from a supermassive black hole, one a civilization will never match the energy of, but then the sheer chance of picking a stray neutrino (of all particles) from another galaxy passing right through the Earth with that kind of energy is so unlikely, that my hopes of two civilizations reaching each other suddenly grew a tiny bit.
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