In specific situations, some particles are capable of exceeding the speed of light, once described as the fundamental universal speed limit, which results in somewhat unusual phenomena.
Time, space, mass, and energy were considered as separate entities preceding the 1900’s. The most renowned scientist of the world, Einstein, altered the way physics were thought of up to this day although they appear to be very dissimilar elements. The last of the four well-known papers of Einstein was submitted on September 27th, 1905 and it established that “m = E/c²” which was then rearranged into the more iconic form of “E = mc²”. This famous equation is the ultimate chief reason of several illustrious revolutions in particle physics, the most fascinating among those today is probably the world-renowned particle accelerators.
The Cern Large Hadron Collider (LHC) situated in Geneva, Switzerland is possibly the most illustrious among them. The key example of verifying the relations between mass, energy and the universe as we know it is the accelerator. The LHC can accelerate particles upwards of 99.999999%the speed of light, or 299,792,455 m/s. The LHC accelerates particles to a velocity only 0.000199% faster than the next fastest accelerator, merely accumulating just 600 m/s more. Almost 16 times more energy is needed by LHC in order to obtain just a little bit of a greater speed. . The accelerators are brilliant demonstrators as to the exponential growth vital to make particles go faster. An infinite amount of energy must be deposited in order to reach the speed of light, which is rather clearly impossible in case the object has a quantifiable mass.
Physicists have discovered special entities that are capable of attaining superluminal (faster than light) speeds ever since it has been labelled as the universal limit, which still conform to the universal rules set by special relativity.
As the speed of light cannot be exceeded from within a perfect vacuum, it is true that the speed of light is not the same from within other mediums. The speed of light is 25% slower in water which provides the chance for some particles under specific conditions to exceed the limit.
In a variety of ways, the speed of light is reminiscent of the speed of sound. An audible sonic boom can be easily heard to a certain extent as soon as the speed of sound is exceeded. In the similar way, a sort of “luminal boom” can be directly observed with human eyes as the particles exceed the speed of light. This effect is known as Cherenkov radiation and is evident as a blue glow within nuclear reactors, like the image below.
In fission reactors the atomic explosion propel high-energy particles over the speed of light in water as the speed of light slows down by 25%. Just like a shock-wave, as the electrons within the reactor exceed the speed of light photons begin to accumulate behind in bunches, resulting in the emission of a luminescent boom generally as blue light, however it can also become ultraviolet.
Similarly, when Neutrinos (changeless particles with a minuscule mass) undergo reactions, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory located in Ontario, Canada, observes Cherenkov Radiation by recording the “luminal boom” released. As the Neutrinos pass through the heavy water chamber, they go through reactions which expel electrons at speeds greater than the speed of light, thus emitting Cherenkov Radiation which is then detected, confirming the presence of Neutrino.
The present understanding of particle physics and the theory of relativity is not invalidated by Cherenkov Radiation. Instead, it opens the doors to the strange behaviour of particles in the quantum realm, slowly but surely unlocking the secrets of the universe.