Subatomic particles falling from the sky reveal the inner secrets of volcanoes

Rooms are everywhere. Without knowing it, several hundred will hit your head every second.

These subatomic particles – formed when cosmic rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere – are harmless and rapidly break down into lighter groups of particles.

The particles pass through objects such as X-rays, making them useful to scientists who used myons to uncover a hidden chamber in the great pyramid of Egypt four years ago.

Scientists are also using ghostly myons to map the internal structure of the volcanoes, which could one day help predict dangerous eruptions, according to an article published last week. Proceedings of the Royal Society.

According to Giovanni Leone, a geophysicist and lead geophysicist at the University of Chile, Atacama, to create these maps, researchers measure how effectively particles pass through magma flowing through volcanic caves, chambers and rock corridors, and then use this information to create geological drawings. author of the study.

The technology, known as muography, may one day be “Magma’s ultimate identification system,” Leone said. New York Times, adding that the technology makes it possible to follow the movements of the magma before the discharge.

X-ray inside the volcano

Foods are like fat, fast electrons: They have a negative charge, but they are 207 times heavier than electrons, and they travel at almost the speed of light. This heaviness and speed allow particles to penetrate dense materials such as volcanic rock. The denser the object, the faster the myons lose speed and disintegrate.

Many myons can hit the side of the volcano and pass through it. But if the volcano is dense enough – for example, because the corridor is full of magma – myoni will not survive from the other side of the volcano.

To find out which myons survived the trip, the researchers placed myon detectors on the side of the volcano. These detectors create an image of the volcanic gut by capturing fearless myons that did not decay as they passed through the volcano and detecting openings where the myons did not remain intact.

Some scientists do this mapping of the air by placing myon detectors inside helicopters and flying near the sides of the volcano.

Think of it as an X-ray of your foot. During the x-ray, the radiation passes through your feet and is stored in the camera. If the radiation passes through an obstacle, the image will look black.

But because the bones in your foot absorb some of the x-rays as they pass through them, less radiation enters the camera, which means your bones look lighter in the image.

In volcanic mography, scientists look for the same contrast: the myons passing through create completely dark shadows on top of the myon detector. But when myons hit dense parts of the volcano and decay faster, they leave lighter silhouettes. In short, the denser the object, the lighter the silhouette.

FermilabScientistsWithMuonDetector(Reidar Hahn / Fermilab)

Above: Two scientists at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, working on a myon detector.

The more volcanoes surrounded by myon detectors – some can be almost the size of a tennis court – the better the picture.

One detector produces a 2D image, says David Mahon, a research scientist at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the study.

“Using multiple detectors placed around an object makes it possible to build a rough 3D image,” he said. New York Times.

Foods can help predict volcanic eruptions

Scientists have used the mography to see the Sakurajima and Mount Asama volcanoes in Japan, as well as three volcanoes in Italy – including Vesuvius – and the Caribbean volcano in Guadeloupe.

In addition to helping scientists map the interior of a volcano, the new article suggests that the mapping could be used to detect magma reservoirs inside volcanoes designed to unload and track the movement of magma in real time.

Eruptions are often preceded by magma rising to the top of the volcano, and the use of myons to detect magma flow in that peak can help scientists detect impending eruptions, allowing people to evacuate safely before the eruption.

“Knowing these things as early as possible buys critical time from local alert and evacuation protocols,” the study authors wrote, adding, “predicting violent volcanic eruptions is a sacred cup of applied volcanology.”

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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