Scientists Finally Capture Image Of ‘Ghost Particles’ That Show The Milky Way Like We've Never Seen It Before

By Abdul Rafay in Science and Technology Published On 4th July 2023
Credit: NASA

Despite the fact that everyone is familiar with the famous swirly images of our Milky Way galaxy, a team of researchers has now provided us with a previously unseen perspective on the galaxy.


Since the scientist Edwin Hubble realized that the Milky Way wasn't the only galaxy in space and that there were, in fact, millions of galaxies, we have come to realize just how small we are in the bigger scheme of things.

Ever since, scientists have been fascinated by our home galaxy, which has recently been revealed to us in a completely new way by professionals.

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Credit: IceCube Collaboration

You probably won't recognize the new Milky Way image that the team unveiled last month.


This is so because neutrinos, sometimes known as "ghost particles," were used to capture the image.

Scientists have miraculously transformed an enormous amount of Antarctic ice into a detector in order to pick up the particles, which are extremely difficult to detect from Earth.

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The detector, appropriately named IceCube, is made up of thousands of sensors along with enormous cables that have been frozen and bored into a 1-kilometer block of ice.

"This is the first time we're seeing our Galaxy using particles rather than photons [of light]," Prof Subir Sarkar from the University of Oxford told the BBC.

"The neutrino is a ghostly particle; it's basically almost without mass," he added.


"They're essentially moving at the speed of light and might pass through the Galaxy and not interact with anything. That is why, in order to see them, you need a massive detector."

Amazingly, the ghost particles that are being released from the brilliant spots observed in the photograph are distinct from visible lightwaves.

IceCube's chief investigator, Francis Halzen, a physicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained: "What’s intriguing is that, unlike the case for light of any wavelength, in neutrinos, the universe outshines the nearby sources in our own galaxy."

Denise Caldwell, the National Science Foundation's director of the Physics Division, continued: "As is so often the case, significant breakthroughs in science are enabled by advances in technology. The capabilities provided by the highly sensitive IceCube detector, coupled with new data analysis tools, have given us an entirely new view of our galaxy, one that had only been hinted at before.


"As these capabilities continue to be refined, we can look forward to watching this picture emerge with the ever-increasing resolution, potentially revealing hidden features of our galaxy never before seen by humanity."

Scientists hope to spend the next five to ten years trying to find an answer to the question that "we can finally ask" after the ground-breaking discovery was reported in the journal Science.

The discovery of a new perspective on the Milky Way using neutrinos opens up a new chapter in our exploration of the universe. By utilizing these ghost particles and the innovative IceCube detector, scientists have shed light on aspects of our galaxy that were previously hidden from view.