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Unraveling the enigma: where does Amaterasu, the ray with no answers, come from?



The Earth has recently been struck by a cosmic ray from space, a discovery announced by Toshihiro Fujii’s team at Osaka Metropolitan University. This phenomenon has been documented in the journal Science, and the ray has been nicknamed Amaterasu, in honor of the sun goddess in Japanese mythology.

Amaterasu possesses an extraordinarily high energy level, surpassing even that generated by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. Its energy reaches 240 exa-electronvolts, making it the second most powerful ray ever discovered, behind the 1991 “Oh my God” ray, which had 320 exa-electronvolts.

In an attempt to explain this occurrence, the scientific team has explored various hypotheses, ranging from the most conventional explanations to more extreme theories. Amaterasu represents the fourth particle of this kind detected by Earth-based instruments from space, but its precise origins remain unknown.

Cosmic rays, despite their name sounding science-fictional, are high-energy subatomic particles traveling through space at speeds close to that of light. They can originate from galactic, extragalactic, or even solar sources. The peculiarity of the ray that struck Earth on November 27 lies mainly in its extraordinary speed and extremely high energy values, which significantly complicate its identification.

High-energy cosmic rays surpass the extra-electronvolt range, a measurement nearly a million times higher than the energy reached by particles in the most powerful accelerator ever built by humans. Those exceeding 200 extra-electronvolts are extremely rare, reaching Earth approximately once a century, one per square kilometer. So far, only four such events have been recorded, adding further difficulties to understanding their origins.

Amaterasu was identified thanks to the sensors of the Telescope Array, but all efforts to determine its origin have been fruitless so far. It is only known to be of extragalactic origin, coming from a region of the cosmos outside our galaxy, albeit in its vicinity. Analyses conducted by scientists have deepened the mystery, as calculations based on the movement of cosmic rays and their interactions with the magnetic fields of celestial objects have revealed nothing significant in the source area.

Nevertheless, the hypothesis of a black hole remains the most plausible according to current knowledge. According to John Belz from the University of Utah, co-author of the article in Science, it could be an undetected supermassive black hole due to a magnetic field that has deflected the incoming particle. Scientists admit that current models of cosmic rays may be partly flawed, and Amaterasu could originate from a different region of the cosmos with more evident explanations.

They do not exclude, however, the possibility of still unknown physical phenomena. Some more intriguing hypotheses include the possibility that the cosmic ray was caused by a defect in the spacetime structure or a collision of cosmic strings. Experts refer to them as “almost crazy ideas,” expecting further precise investigations in the hope of unraveling the mystery.

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