What is a ghost particle?

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Source: The post is based on the article “What is a ghost particle?” published in “The Hindu” on 28th October 2023

Why in the News?

China is building the world’s largest telescope called “Trident” below the South China Sea.The job of the telescope is to detect “ghost particles” also known as neutrinos.

What are Ghost Particles or Neutrinos?

Neutrinos are tiny subatomic particles.They are often called ‘ghost particles’ because they barely interact with anything else. 

Characteristics of Neutrinos:

Electrically neutralNeutrinos do not carry an electric charge which means they are not affected by electromagnetic forces.This allows them to pass through matter including most atoms, with minimal interaction.
Extremely low massNeutrinos have a mass much smaller than other fundamental particles like electrons or quarks.
Weak ChargeNeutrinos’ weak charge have made them difficult to observe.They can only be seen when they interact with other particles. 

How Do Scientists detect Ghost Particles or Neutrinos? 

Ghost particles rarely interact with other particles but can interact with water molecules. 

Underwater telescopes can detect neutrino interactions when they produce “muons,” which create detectable flashes of light. 

The University of Madison-Wisconsin’s “IceCube” telescope is the largest neutrino-detecting telescope, located in Antarctica. 

China is building a telescope called “Trident” in the South China Sea to detect Neutrinos.

Why Does the Detection of Neutrinos Matter?

1.Detecting Cosmic Rays: Neutrinos will help solve a number of scientific mysteries like the origin of the cosmic rays which are known to contain neutrinos. 

2.Understanding Universe: Neutrinos are essential for understanding the origins of our universe.

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