First, I wish to address the study of the most powerful kinetically energized cosmic ray particle what has now become known as the ‘OMG Particle’.
“OMG” was the nickname given to the first example of what are now known as ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, detected in 1991 by the University of Utah’s Fly’s Eye cosmic ray detector. That single proton slammed into our atmosphere going roughly 99.99999999999999999999951 percent the speed of light. And no, all those nines aren’t just for dramatic effect to make the number look impressive – it really was that fast. This particle had the same amount of kinetic energy as a decently thrown baseball … compressed down into an object the size of a proton.
That means this particle had over 10 million times more energy than what our most powerful particle collider, the LHC, can produce. Due to relativistic time dilation, at that speed, the OMG particle could travel to our nearest neighbor star, Proxima Centauri, in 0.43 milliseconds of the particle’s own time. It could continue on to our galactic core by the time you’ve finished reading this sentence (from its own perspective).
To accelerate a charged particle to insane velocities, you need two key ingredients: a lot of energy and a magnetic field. The magnetic field does the work of transferring to the particle whatever energies are in your event (say, the explosive kinetic energy of a supernova blast or the swirling gravitational pull as matter falls toward a black hole).
The true origins of these ultra-high-energy “OMG” particles are tough to pin down, and despite almost 30 years of detection history, we don’t have a lot of firm answers. Which is fine – it’s good to have at least some mysteries left in the universe. Astrophysicists could use some job security, too.
Science Of Cycles Research Fund