Faster Particles than Light: Cherenkov Radiation

Although it is by no means possible to exceed this speed of light in the vacuum, if the medium where the light travels is not vacuum, we can exceed the speed of light. This is very similar to the speed of sound propagating in different environments at different speeds.

The sound velocity travels at a temperature of 343.2 meters per second at 20 degrees Celsius, while the sound emits 4.3 times faster than that in the water environment. The speed of 343 meters per second can now be exceeded with today's technology and in this case an event called sonic explosion occurs. When this happens, the object, which is the source of the sound, exceeds the speed of the propagating sound waves, that is, the speed of sound, crossing the sound wall and a sonic explosion occurs.
Sonic eruptions or exceeding the sound wall are caused by the sound source going faster than the emitted sound waves as seen in the simulation.
Well, if we can slow down the speed of light, what happens if we exceed the speed of light that we slow down? Or, in other words, if the "wall of light" is exceeded, can a sonic explosion or something like that occur, as when we exceed the speed of sound? In fact, this can be tested using electrons in different reactors on Earth. While the speed of light is “c” in the vacuum environment, the speed of the light traveling in the water in these reactors decreases to 0.75c. Electrons, which cannot have the same speed as the speed of light under normal conditions, temporarily exceed the speed of photons in the water, thereby causing a blue glow. The radiation in blue is due to the Doppler Effect.

Of course, scientists do not create the Cherenkov Radiation because they want their lives. For example, thanks to Çerenkov Radiation, biomolecules that are difficult to detect can be detected or this radiation can be used for body imaging technologies in the medical field.
In addition, Çerenkov Radiation has great contributions to scientific observation technologies. These high-speed electron-positron pairs form when a high-energy gamma beam interacts with the Earth's atmosphere. It is precisely here that the Cherenkov Radiation can be used to detect the source or some other properties of these gamma rays. In addition, Çerenkov Radiation is used effectively in particle physics studies for similar reasons.

Finally, the name of the glow comes from the name of Soviet scientist Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov, who first observed the Cherenkov effect experimentally, and was awarded Nobel in 1958.


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