Schematic view of the Cherenkov effect
Windows to the Universe original image
The Cherenkov Effect
The theory of relativity states that no particle can travel at
the speed of light in
a vacuum. However, light travels at lower speeds in
dense media, like water. A particle traveling in water must have a speed less
than the speed of light in a vacuum, but it is possible for it to
move faster than the speed of light in water.
If the particle is charged, it will emit radiation (light). This process
is similar to the sonic boom heard when an airplane exceeds the
speed of sound. Neutrino interactions with water can produce
such particles. Sensitive light detectors measure this
Cherenkov radiation in Neutrino experiments.
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