Astronomers detect the first ghost particles of the Milky Way

An international group of scientists reported this Thursday, in the journal Science, the first evidence related to the emission of high-energy neutrinos from the Milky Way, which means that there are nearby sources inside our galaxy that generate these peculiar particles.

Neutrinos are subatomic particles that can pass through most matter without being detected, which is why they are called ‘ghost particles’. Jim Madsen, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained that these small objects originate from extreme astronomical events, such as black holes or stellar explosions, and travel without difficulties in space and matter.

However, he commented that because of their tiny size, neutrinos cannot be seen with the naked eye, even with most telescopes. Faced with this situation, it was decided to use a particle detector known as the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, which previously managed to identify neutrinos outside our solar system.

According to its operator, this detector, which is located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, is unique in its kind, since it covers around one cubic kilometer of deep Antarctic ice, as well as being equipped with 5,000 light sensors.

Madsen explained that these devices turn on when they detect a neutrino and, depending on their configuration, the energy and direction of the particle that created a flash of light can be determined. These parameters allow us to know where in the universe the neutrino came from.