By combining observations of neutrinos — also known as ghost particles — hitting Earth with the computing power of artificial intelligence (AI), we can get a whole new look at our galaxy. “It’s like the fog is suddenly clearing up,” says spaceflight expert Rob van den Berg.
Scientists have discovered a new way to look at our galaxy and beyond. For this they use neutrinos. “These particles fly through everything, even directly through the Earth,” says Van den Berg, a space expert at the Sonnenburg Observatory in Utrecht. So try to catch them. Hence the term: ghost particles.
But if you can catch them, they can contain a wealth of information. “Neutrinos are produced by very high-energy processes in the universe,” says van den Berg. If you know how to observe particles, you can determine the source of those processes.
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Huge detector in Antarctica
Technology where artificial intelligence (AI) is combined with feedback offers new possibilities. We have a huge detector at the tip of the South Pole and sometimes a neutrino collides with an ice particle, which creates little flashes of light. If you collect enough of these flashes of light, you can form a picture made up of neutrinos from the universe.
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Such observations occur occasionally, but scientists have been unable to determine the direction of the neutrinos, leaving the picture incomplete. Artificial intelligence is now changing that. Using artificial intelligence, we have now successfully deduced which direction the neutrinos came from from those flashes of light. With this information, you can make a map of our galaxy.
The fog disappears
According to van den Berg, this opens up a whole new world. “Of course we’ve been looking at the universe and our galaxy with telescopes for centuries,” he says. But a lot is obscured and we can’t see it. This new method complements those observations very well. It’s like we’ve been looking into the fog all the time and see fuzzy shapes, and now the fog is rising.
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