Why in News?

China is building the world’s largest telescope called “Trident”  below  the  South China Sea. The job of the telescope is to detect “ghost particles” also known as neutrinos.

What is Ghost Particle?

Neutrinos are a type of electron but, like neutrons, they do not have any charge. They are among the most abundant particles in our universe — with trillions of neutrinos passing through you at any given second—and also among the tiniest. Neutrinos were long believed to be massless, until scientists found evidence that they do have a very small mass.

Neutrinos’ weak charge and  almost  non-existent  mass  have  made  them notoriously difficult for scientists to observe. They can only be “seen” when they interact with other particles. The rarity of interactions with other particles impossible to makes them almost track. That’s why they’re called ghost particles—the vast majority skirt around undetected.

How do scientists detect ghost particle?

Ghost particles rarely interact with other particles. But rarely doesn’t mean “never”. Sometimes they interact with water molecules, which is why China is building its ghost molecule telescope underwater.

Scientists have observed ghost particles in fleeting instances when the particles create byproducts after traveling through water or ice. These “muons” create flashes of light that can be detected by sophisticated underwater telescopes and offer one of the fews ways to study the energy and source of neutrinos.

Right now, the largest neutrino-detecting telescope is the University of Madison-Wisconson’s “IceCube” telescope. Situated deep in the Antarctic, the telescope’s sensors span around 1 cubic kilometer. China says its new telescope, called “Trident”, will span 7.5 cubic kilometers in the South China Sea.

Scientists say that its size will allow it to detect more neutrinos and make it “10,000 times more sensitive” than existing underwater telescopes. Construction has already begun and is slated to finish within this decade, scientists say.

Why does the detection of ghost particles matter?

 Scientists don’t really know why the massively  abundant  neutrinos  act  the  way they do. They defy established rules of physics. And it’s not clear where the particles come from. Scientists think they might have played a role in the early universe, right after the big bang. But  this  is  just  a  hypothesis,  nothing  they’ve been capable of proving yet.

It’s thought that a sound understanding of neutrinos will help solve a number of scientific mysteries—like the origin of the mysterious cosmic rays, which are known to contain neutrinos. Researchers believe that understanding the source of neutrinos will enable them to explain the origins of cosmic rays—something scientists have been trying to do  for  centuries.  There’s  evidence  that  neutrinos are essential for  understanding  the  origins  of  our  universe. The construction of Trident is set to bring us one step closer to that knowledge.