It all took shape in 1991 when physicists came across a cosmic ray from outside of space; it was termed the Oh-My-God particle because it was a high-energy particle that had never been seen before.
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It was measured to carry about 3x1020 electron volts (eV) – much higher than what the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) can impart on a particle, which is about 1015eV.
Within the past 21 years, this ultra-high-energy has only been detected one per square kilometer per century – underscoring how rare they are. Scientists estimate the energy of the particle should come from outside our galaxy since such high energies could not be generated from within our own galaxy.
Cosmic ray particles become charged and deflected when they move through the magnetic fields in our galaxy, creating difficulty in telling where they originate from. They however have neutrinos as their by-product which informed the Nobel Prize for Physics this year.
Neutrinos are great in that they could be used to test theories of particle formation in the early universe. Finding neutrinos is very difficult since a very large detector is required; and this can help with astronomical data from outside of our universe. The moon is seen as a detector that can be used in this regard.
Gurgen Askaryan, a Russian-Armenian physicist, said in 1962 that neutrinos in interacted with rocks on the surface of the moon, and that this generates radio waves that can be captured in nanoseconds, called the Askaryan effect, receivable by a detector on the moon. But in 1992, R. Dagkesamanskii and I.M. Zheleznykh, two Russian scientists said a ground-based radio telescope trained on the moon could receive the signals instead of planting a detector on the moon.
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Using the IceCube trial which was carried out in the Antarctica, scientists detected the first high-energy neutrinos from space, but these have lesser energies than what scientists needed to have. But they continue to use a number of detectors and telescopes to search for the elusive particles, and the Square Kilometer Array telescope is being considered a veritable tool to achieving this purpose.