In the current age of an endless series of scientific discoveries, it is rather difficult to surprise the public with something incredible. Nevertheless, it was possible to do it by Italian scientists from the laboratory of the National del Gran Sasso - the world's largest underground research center. They study the structure of our planet and recently, using the Borexino neutrino detector, which is located 1400 meters below the earth's surface, “ghostly particles” from the earth's crust were discovered. The work was published in the journal Physical Review D.
What are "ghost particles?"
For the first time, the results of the study give an idea of the processes in the bowels of our planet, about which until now nothing was known. The mysterious particles known as geoneutrinos are nearly impossible to detect because they rarely interact with matter. These particles are formed in the process of radioactive decay in the bowels of the Earth and almost every second at least a million of these “ghostly particles” penetrate literally every square centimeter of the surface.
The Borexino detector is one of the few detectors in the world that is capable of detecting geoneutrinos. Scientists have been working with him since 2007, and in 2019, after changing the method of analysis, specialists managed to record twice as many events as in the entire previous period. Thus, it was found that 53 new activities are taking place underground. That being said, the discovery of the ghostly particles that make our planet glow can tell scientists a lot more about other mysterious processes.
Where does the heat inside the Earth come from?
According to The Independent, researchers believe that these radioactive processes are responsible for volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, which significantly affect our lives. Moreover, the magnetic field, the movement of tectonic plates and the Earth's mantle make the Earth truly unique compared to other celestial bodies in the solar system. Scientists have been trying to answer the question of where the Earth's internal heat comes from for two decades. And thanks to the discovery of geineutrinos, the hypothesis that there is no radioactivity in the depths of the planet in the mantle can be refuted with a probability of 99%.
In the future, scientists intend to study the geoneutrinos of the Earth's mantle with higher accuracy. Such an opportunity for researchers will be provided by the new project JUNO (Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory) - a modern detector, the dimensions of which are 70 times larger than the dimensions of the Borexino detector. The researchers plan to locate JUNO about 52 km from the reactors of the Yangjiang and Taishan nuclear power plants in China.