STRANGE cosmic rays observed shooting out of Antarctica may be a never-before-seen particle which would defy the laws of physics, scientists have predicted.
Possible explanations for the bizarre phenomenon, which was first recorded in 2006, include that they are a completely new particle or potentially the product of dark matter.
But a third theory, unveiled in a research paper last month, suggests the phantom rays could actually be elusive ‘supersymmetricals’ - minute particles which are capable of passing cleanly through matter without interacting with it at all.
The long-sought particles have eluded scientists for years - including the team at the Large Hadron Collider, which has predicted their existence but not been able to observe them.
And if their existence is proved, they would break the rules of the long-established Standard Model of physics, the most accurate description of the universe humans have ever known.
The strange cosmic rays were first spotted shooting out of Antarctica during a 2006 experiment to monitor cosmic rays showering the Earth from space.
During the tests, NASA-affiliated researchers observed a phenomenon that they were unable to explain: Cosmic rays being emitted from the ground.
Data was collected through the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA), a high-tech balloon designed to monitor cosmic neutrinos while floating over Antarctica.
But during its maiden flight in 2006, ANITA’s specialist instruments recorded a cosmic ray coming from below.
Cosmic rays are high-energy fragments of atoms which travel through space at close to the speed of light. They are thought to come from clusters of massive stars.