Mysterious Particles from Antarctica might Change the Laws of Modern Physics

Mysterious Particles from Antarctica might Change the Laws of Modern Physics

Scientists may have found a Supersymmetric particle called Stau Sleptons emerging from the Antarctic soil.

Antarctica is located in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere. The southernmost continent of our planet is quite unique in itself but a recent study suggests that an even more strange particle is coming out of it. In March 2016, some sort of cosmic rays burst out from the Earth over two different events in Antarctica. The Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) of NASA was able to detect these radiations and scientists have been working since then, to figure out their source. Scientists predict that this particle might change the laws of Physics as it didn’t match with any particle from the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Despite the fact that several explanations have emerged to the scene, none of them indicated conclusively that something extraordinary caused the signal at ANITA. In the latest research, astrophysicists from the Penn State University found more upward-going high-energy particles than those detected during the two ANITA events.

According to the research published in ‘arXiv’, IceCube detected similar particles three times but scientists haven’t found any connection between these events and the mystery at ANITA. The researching team combined the data sets of ANITA and IceCube to determine that there is less than a 1-in-3.5 million chance that the particle belongs to the Standard Model. Derek Fox, the Lead Author of the paper, mentioned how he felt when he came across the ANITA events for the first time. He said,

I was like, ‘Well this model doesn’t make much sense but the [ANITA] result is very intriguing, so I started checking up on it. I started talking to my office neighbor Steinn Sigurdsson [the second author on the paper, who is also at Penn State] about whether maybe we could gin up some more plausible explanations than the papers that have been published to date.”

This finding urged the team of Fox and Sigurdsson to look for similar events. They started searching data sets of other detectors in that quest and found something interesting in the data of IceCube. The information about upward-going events in the IceCube data gave them some incredible insights about these particles. This is when they realized that the laws of Physics might change dramatically with this finding. Fox acknowledged that by saying,

That’s what really got me going, and looking at the ANITA events with the utmost seriousness. This is what physicists live for. Breaking models, setting new constraints [on reality], learning things about the universe we didn’t know.”

High-energy particle physics haven’t progressed much in quite some time now. Physicists expected that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will prove beneficial in this regard but it didn’t detect anything important after confirming the ‘Higgs Boson’ in 2012. In these circumstances, the mystery of ‘Supersymmetric Particles’ looked out of reach and a lot of researchers around the world stressed that we need new ideas to continue our search. This is the reason why this latest research is getting a lot of appreciation around the globe. Mauricio Bustamante, an Astrophysicist at the Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, who was not a member of the study praised the work in the following words:

It was clear from the start that if the ANITA anomalous events are due to particles that had propagated through thousands of kilometers of Earth, then those particles were very likely not SM particles. The paper that appeared today is the first systematic calculation of how unlikely is that these events were due to SM neutrinos. Their result strongly disfavors a SM explanation.”

If we go by the Standard Model, these particles should have been neutrinos. Having said that, it is not possible for neutrinos to make it through the Earth often enough to get detected by IceCube and ANITA. Following these guidelines, the researching team considers these particles as supersymmetric and called them ‘Stau Sleptons’. However, Fox did acknowledge that they need more data to be certain about that and they will keep working on that in the coming years. He said,

As an observer, there’s no way that I can know that this is a stau. From my perspective, I go trawling around trying to discover new things about the universe, I come upon some really bizarre phenomenon, and then with my colleagues, we do a little literature search to see if anybody has ever thought that this might happen. And then if we find papers in the literature, including one from 14 years ago that predict something just like this phenomenon, then that gets really high weight from me.”

Computer Scientist by qualification who loves to read, write, eat, and travel

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