According to a recent report from CNN, a mysterious cosmic ray has appeared in the state of Utah, with origins that can be traced beyond our known galaxy. The ultra-high-energy particle observed by astronomers is completely invisible to the naked human eye, but comes choc-full of transferable energy. Though scientists have not currently triangulated the origin of this ray, researchers seem convinced that it contains properties from the distant reaches of outer space.
Low-energy cosmic rays are commonly found all over the Earth, and often emanate from the sun in the center of our solar system. While some high-energy rays can be observed on Earth on occasion, none seem to share properties with the one recently discovered in Utah. The rays are measured as charged particles that travel through space, often having no significant impact on the human body, though the high-energy particles found within the Utah ray are strong enough to mimic the feeling of a brick falling on your toe from waist height, according to researchers.
The newly discovered cosmic ray, which scientists have nicknamed the Amaterasu particle, a nod to the Japanese sun goddess, was located by the Telescope Array in Utah’s West Desert. The Telescope Array is a cosmic ray observatory that has been operating for nearly 20 years, and has been responsible for spotting and researching more than 30 ultra-high-energy rays in the time since. Researchers at the observatory utilize complex detectors that line more than 270 square miles of land in the West Desert and detect particle density through the triggering of exa-electron volts.
The Amaterasu cosmic ray, discovered on May 27, 2021, activated nearly two dozen surface detectors, resulting in 244 exa-electron volts measured. For comparison, the most energetic ray ever observed in scientific history is the so-called ‘Oh My God’ particle discovered in 1991, which holds 320 exa-electron volts. These electron signatures have not yet been traced to their exact origins, though many scientists believe them to be related to deep-space energetic phenomena such as gamma-ray bursts, black holes, and galactic nuclei.
The closest scientists can get to tracking these cosmic rays, is a large empty space on the outside border of the Milky Way, which astronomers have called the Local Void. The region doesn’t appear to have any celestial bodies or sources of energy, though it’s the best guess researchers currently have as to the origins of the Amaterasu and the Oh My God particles. Utah scientists have pledged to continue studying both the void and the incoming particles, in order to establish some kind of pattern with the raining energy droplets.
A spokesman for the Telescope Array Collaboration explained in a recent statement to the press that these high-energy cosmic events seem random when their trajectories are traced. The cosmic rays don’t seem to be part of an established pattern, leaving researchers scratching their heads. With no clear understanding of where these particles come from or how they get here, scientists have struggled to predict and understand the movement of high-energy rays that emanate from the distant void.