|Two mirrors within the University of Utah's High Resolution Fly's Eye cosmic ray observatory. (Credit: Image From University of Utah)|
Most understand my curiosity with what is happening naturally around us in terms of High Energy Cosmic Events ( It should be stressed that the energy required to move these particles this fast is enormous. Millions of times more energy per particle than humans have been able to create. See- Closure).
The highest energy particle ever observed was detected by the Fly's Eye in 1991. With an energy of 3.5 x 1020eV (or 56J), the particle, probably a proton or a light nucleus, had 108 times more energy than particles produced in the largest earth-bound accelerators. See: Wayback Machine
So for me it is an interesting confirmation about what scientists do with regard to trying to understand these events. How much energy is involved and whether we can create models with which to understand the decay products that are created from.
The highest-energy cosmic ray ever detected was observed on October 15, 1991 by the Fly's Eye cosmic ray detector in Utah, USA. The detector is located in the desert in Dugway Proving Grounds 75 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The Fly's Eye detects cosmic rays by observing the light that they cause when they strike the atmosphere. When an extremely high-energy cosmic ray enters the atmosphere, it collides with an atomic nucleus and starts a cascade of charged particles that produce light as they zip through the atmosphere. The charged particles of a cosmic ray air shower travel together at very nearly the speed of light, so the Utah detectors see a fluorescent spot move rapidly along a line through the atmosphere. By measuring how much light comes from each stage of the air shower, one can infer not only the energy of the cosmic ray but also whether it was more likely a simple proton or a heavier nucleus. See: The Fly's Eye Event