A team of scientists have confirmed that an unusually powerful particle of antimatter crashed into Antarctica back in December 2016.
This collision seems to have triggered a subatomic cascade effect known as Glashow resonance. It is a theoretical phenomenon that requires more energy to set off than even the most powerful particle accelerators can provide.
The team was not expecting to see evidence of the resonance, but as they have seen it now, it might help them further confirm the Standard Model of subatomic physics.
Slow and Steady
After taking around four years, the team affiliated with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica confirmed the Glashow resonance, according to the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
This time is nothing when compared to the time since we have been waiting to spot the bizarre phenomenon. The Glashow resonance was coined by Stephen Glashow, who told us about the notion of the subatomic cascade back in 1960 and that it’s been a matter of pure theory that whole time.
The actual science behind Glashow resonance involves an antineutrino or a regular neutrino crashing into an electron with an intense energy that produces a comparatively large particle called a W boson.
This needs the tiny antineutrino to carry around 6.3 petaelectronvolts which is the amount of energy of 6.3 quadrillion electrons accelerated by a single volt.
This energy is the energy we expect the Large Hadron Collider to produce after it’s done being upgraded. Scientists, however, are left waiting for these bizarre, rare phenomena to happen on their own in nature.
The IceCube Collaboration., Aartsen, M.G., Abbasi, R. et al. Detection of a particle shower at the Glashow resonance with IceCube. Nature 591, 220–224 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03256-1