Cosmic rays are about a million times more energetic than the output of our most powerful particle accelerator. The radiation, which consists of energetic particles, moves through space in a winding path that is difficult to understand.
And not the “oh my god” particle that a research team at the University of Utah discovered in 1991. As a former teacher, it had an energy of 3.2 x 1020 MeV. This was much higher than all values considered possible.
The energy charge was so high that it enabled the particle to travel relatively unchecked through intergalactic space. As a result of public astonishment, the particle got its own name.
For 30 years, this value could not be measured for any other captured particles. In 2021, the Telescope Array Experiment Observatory near Utah detected the second-highest level of cosmic radiation: at 2.4 x 1020 eV, a particle called Amaterasu approached the energy of an “omg” particle.
“When I first saw the data, I thought there must be an error,” said Toshihiro Fujii, lead author of a study on the second discovery now published in the journal Science.
Above all, the original region of Amaterasu is a mystery to scholars. Particles charged in this way are not affected by intragalactic or extragalactic magnetic fields, and thus have an easily traceable path. However, the place where Amaterasu was supposed to originate is just what is called a “local void”: an orphan region at the edge of the Milky Way.
“There is nothing energetic enough to form a particle,” said physicist John Matthews. “Amaterasu may have arisen from a previously unknown astronomical process outside the Standard Model of particle physics,” Fujii speculates.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Zombie ninja. Entrepreneur. Organizer. Evil travel aficionado. Coffee practitioner. Beer lover.”