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Fri Nov 9, 2018, 10:02 PM

Here's How Much the Earth Weighs in 'Ghostly' Neutrinos

By Rafi Letzter, Live Science Staff Writer | November 9, 2018 04:31pm ET

Despite being stuck on this rock tumbling through space all the time, we don't really know exactly how heavy that rock is, or how its mass is distributed.

Of course, researchers have some pretty good estimates. Our planet weighs about 13.17 septillion (or 13.17 with 24 zeroes after it) lbs. (5.974 septillion kilograms) in an Earth-like gravity field, according to Caltech. But that number comes from an indirect calculation based on Earth's gravity. Similarly, scientists have tried to measure how Earth's mass is distributed based on how seismic waves move through it, but those results aren't very precise. [The Large Numbers That Define the Universe]

So a team of researchers at the Instituto de Física Corpuscular (IFIC) in Spain came up with an alternative method for studying the heavy stuff inside the planet, using a detector designed to hunt ultralight particles from outer space known as neutrinos.

In a paper published Monday (Nov. 5) in the journal Nature Physics, the researchers used data from Antarctica's massive IceCube Neutrino Observatory to estimate the mass and density distribution of the Earth. IceCube can sense these ghostly neutrinos arriving from all directions, including from inside Earth.


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