New Zealand scientists study universe's secrets from images under South Pole

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-11-22 13:44:14

New Zealand scientists are using a telescope pointed at the earth's interior under the ice in Antarctica to study particles that are almost nothing in size in the hope of revealing the secrets of the universe.

University of Canterbury scientists said Friday that the universe was producing high energy neutrino particles that could lead to the source of the highest energy cosmic rays.

"We remotely operate the IceCube telescope, an Antarctic detector, so we can track the neutrinos, or tiny particles," Dr Jenni Adams said in a statement.

"The particles we are searching for are high in energy. IceCube has recently made some exciting observations."

IceCube -- a telescope that captures images of the universe in neutrinos rather than light -- is located between 1,450 and 2,450 metres below the surface of the ice at the South Pole.

The international IceCube project detects the tiny particles ejected from black holes in the universe that stream right through the Earth until a few of them collide with ice particles under the South Pole, producing a quick flash of blue light that can be seen for 300 metres in the clear Antarctic ice.

Tracking neutrinos back to where they came from to make a map of the highest energy regions in the universe would give scientists an unparalleled insight into some of the biggest unanswered questions of the universe, such as what happened in black holes, the violent cores of distant galaxies and the wreckage of exploded stars, said Adams.

"Neutrinos are important to our understanding of the kind of processes that go on in the sun and also an important building block for the blueprint of nature," Adams said.

About 250 other physicists, computer scientists and engineers make up the IceCube collaboration from 38 institutions in 10 countries.

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