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Oh-My-God particle

From Academic Kids

Template:Unsolved On the evening of October 15, 1991, an ultra-high energy cosmic particle was observed over Salt Lake City, Utah. Dubbed the "Oh-My-God particle" (a play on the nickname "God particle" for the Higgs boson), it was estimated to have an energy of approximately 3 × 1020 electronvolts, equivalent to about 50 joules—in other words, it was a subatomic particle with macroscopic kinetic energy, comparable to that of a fastball, or to the mass-energy of a microbe. It was most likely a proton travelling with almost the speed of light (in the case that it was a proton its speed was approximately (1 - 4.9 10-24)c – after traveling one light year the particle would be only 46 nanometres behind a photon that left at the same time) and its observation was a shock to astrophysicists.

Since the first observation, by the University of Utah's Fly's Eye 2, at least fifteen similar events have been recorded, confirming the phenomenon. The source of such high energy particles remains a mystery, especially since interactions with blue-shifted cosmic microwave background radiation limit the distance that these particles can travel before losing energy (the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin limit).

Because of its mass the OMG particle would have experienced very little influence from cosmic electromagnetic and gravitational fields, and so its trajectory should be easily calculable. However, nothing of note was found in the estimated direction of its origin.

References

External links

  • John Walker's lively analysis of the 1991 event (http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/ohmygodpart.html), published in 1994
  • Update (http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2000/508/3): Science 2000 (subscription required). This references, probably, to Science 288(5469): 1147.
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