I'm not sure what a "cosmic ray" is, but an insanely powerful one just arrived from deep space and plonked down in rural Utah
· Dec 2, 2023 · NottheBee.com

When you read something like this ...

On May 27, 2021, the [University of Utah's] Telescope Array experiment detected the second-highest extreme-energy cosmic ray. At 2.4 x 10^20eV, the energy of this single subatomic particle is equivalent to dropping a brick on your toe from waist height.

... you may not understand it, and the brick thing may be just completely confusing, but you at least grasp that it's pretty important.

Cosmic rays are "echoes of violent celestial events that have stripped matter to its subatomic structures and hurled it through universe at nearly the speed of light," the university said. "Essentially cosmic rays are charged particles with a wide range of energies consisting of positive protons, negative electrons, or entire atomic nuclei that travel through space and rain down onto Earth nearly constantly."

I realize that doesn't really answer any of our burning questions about these things. I'm not sure we can fully grasp it as non-scientists.

Still, we can at least appreciate that something significant is happening here. It turns out the university's telescope array has been detecting these high-energy "cosmic ray" events for decades, starting in 1991, when it discovered a particle that "had more energy than was theoretically possible for cosmic rays traveling to Earth from other galaxies."

The scientists in charge of this telescopic array have concluded that this most recent particle discovery "might follow particle physics unknown to science."

That's a fancy way for scientists to say, "Uhhhmmm we have no idea what's going on here, this is insane, stay tuned for more information."

What's strangest is the origin of this particle, or lack thereof: It appears to have emerged "from the Local Void, an empty area of space bordering the Milky Way galaxy."

So they don't know what causes the rays to have this much power, and they can't figure out where they come from? Seems normal, right?

Some random, maybe-right, maybe-wrong ideas from our friends in white coats:

"It could be defects in the structure of spacetime, colliding cosmic strings. I mean, I'm just spit-balling crazy ideas that people are coming up with because there's not a conventional explanation."

Y'all keep spitballing and let us know if you figure anything out!

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