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A mysterious, incredibly energetic cosmic ray has smashed into Earth

A cosmic ray dubbed Amaterasu is the second most powerful one we have ever seen, beaten only by the "Oh-My-God particle". Both have baffled astronomers and defy explanation

By Alex Wilkins

23 November 2023

Illustration of an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray hitting Earth

Illustration of an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray hitting Earth

Osaka Metropolitan University/L-INSIGHT, Kyoto University/Ryuunosuke Takeshige

Astronomers have detected the second most powerful cosmic ray ever recorded, but it seems to have come from an empty region of the universe known as a cosmic void, where there is nothing obvious it could have originated from.

This mysterious cosmic ray, which is probably a charged particle nucleus of some variety, such as carbon or oxygen, has been dubbed Amaterasu after the Japanese sun goddess.

Possible explanations for it include magnetic fields steering the particle off-course, an invisible source in another…

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