How Did the ‘OMG Particle’ Came Into Existence?


There are some cosmic rays that are so small and destructive that they are currently cutting through your DNA. To be fair, they are not even rays, but electrons, protons, helium or even iron nuclei. They are particularly troublesome because of their speed which makes them pumped up with kinetic energy and they’re also electrically charged.

What does this mean?

Well, to put it simply, they are tearing us apart. By ionizing our DNA nucleotides, they get ripped apart and sometimes this can lead to cancer (by inducing uncontrollable replication errors). To make matters worse, once per square km per year, a super-fast particle collides with a nitrogen or oxygen particle resulting in deadly energy being released. What else can you say to this than ‘OMG’?

OMG, they’re fast

That’s what scientists thought when they first observed the ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, in 1991. A single proton can almost reach the speed of light (99.99999999999999999999951 percent). So they are really fast and they pack a lot of kinetic energy – as much as a thrown baseball, compressed down to the size of a proton -, meaning that this kind of particle is 10 million times more powerful than what we could produce, the particle collider LHC.

The OMG particle is so fast that it can reach the next closest star, Proxima Centauri in just 0.43 milliseconds and by the time you are done reading this sentence it could have reached our galaxy’s core.

Where do they come from?

Originally, we believed that Centaurus A generated them. It is an active galactic nucleus sitting 10-16 million light-years away. However, we couldn’t say for certain that this is the culprit. By considering our galaxy’s magnetic field, we have to account for deviation. That’s why a more probable source would be the Seyfert galaxies or gamma-ray bursts. We don’t know yet.



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