A new experiment has produced the strongest-ever evidence of the existence of sterile neutrinos – these are particles that pass right through matter without ever interacting with it.
The first time these particles were ever detected was a few decades ago, notes a report by NBC. After years of dedicated experiments to search and find sterile neutrinos, there was no actual evidence to support their existence. In fact, there were a lot of experiments that directly contradicted the presence of sterile neutrinos.
New research has now helped scientists find evidence of sterile neutrinos' existence, notes the report. This has led scientists to conclude that there is something happening in the universe that is making solid physics experiments and research contradict one another.
In the 1990s, these particles were detected was at the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector (LSND), an experiment run at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, notes the report, where they found evidence of this mysterious new particle called a "sterile neutrino". Called so because the way it passes through matter without interacting with it at all.
This most recent find was through an experiment, called the MiniBooNE at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located near Chicago. This laboratory also picked up trails of this elusive particle, notes the report.
According to what scientists call the Standard Model of Physics, which has dominated the understanding of all matter and the universe for over 50 years now, there is a list of particles that go together and explain how matter interacts with energy in the universe. Some particles like electrons and quarks, for example, are simple to imagine. They are known to be the building blocks of atoms that make up all observable matter- things that can be touched and felt by humans.
Neutrinos, on the other hand are difficult to visualise mostly because they can't be touched or interacted with easily. They are known to be the smallest particles in the universe and can simply pass by most forms of matter like it does not even exist. In fact, the report points out that these high energy neutrinos are constantly passing through the planet, from the sun. There are billions passing through every person at all times, but they do not interact with matter, so it has no impact on life on Earth.
Neutrinos are categorised as three "flavours" says the report – Electron, Muon and Tau, sometimes interact with matter through the Weak Force (one of the four fundamental forces of the universe) and gravity. Using specialized neutrino detectors it is possible to find them, coming from the Sun or from certain Earth-made sources like nuclear reactions.
However, apart from the two mentioned experiments, scientists are yet to find traces of sterile neutrinos.