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Scientists have watched a high-energy particle speed through the Earth in what they are hailing as a major breakthrough.

The particle fell towards Earth in December 2016, making its way from outer space at almost the speed of light. As it flew into the Earth, it smashed into an electron buried inside an ice sheet at the South Pole – producing a particle that then decayed into a host of secondary particles.

Those particles were picked up by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a huge telescope that is buried underneath the surface of the Antarctic.

The event captured by that equipment is known as a Glashow resonance event. Such events had been predicted, but never directly seen – and finally observing on helps confirm some of the deepest foundations of particle physics, scientists say.

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