Map captures Earth’s antineutrino glow | Science News

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Map captures Earth’s antineutrino glow

Planet’s crust, nuclear reactors are hot spots in newly released image

By
6:00am, September 22, 2015
map of antineutrino emissions

ANTINEUTRINO RAINBOW  A global map of antineutrino emissions illustrates that many of the wispy particles are released from Earth’s crust and nuclear reactors.

Each second, more than 10 septillion (1025) antineutrinos race away from Earth and into space. That’s 100 trillion times as many antineutrinos as stars in the galaxy. But who’s counting?

Leave that to particle physicist Shawn Usman of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield, Va. In September in Scientific Reports, he and colleagues published the first global map of antineutrinos, harmless subatomic particles (and the antimatter cousins of neutrinos) born when radioactive elements break down. That decay happens within the planet’s crust and mantle and in nuclear reactors.

Usman’s team pieced together data, including measurements from detectors in Italy and Japan, to build a Technicolor map of antineutrino abundance. Dark reds flag hot spots; blues mark areas where antineutrinos are less bountiful.

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