Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Newly Detected Particle Is Huge for Astronomy

Newly Detected Particle Is Huge for Astronomy

For the first time, scientists now know where at least some neutrinos come from.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) Telescope in the Canary Islands, both of them recognized the same source of unpredictable particle which is very powerful: a blaze of cosmic rays with high energy level, shooting into space from a faraway enormous black hole, this powerful phenomenon is also called as blazer. According to the previous data records a highly energetic neutrino collided one of the nuclei which were of those frozen water atoms in September 2017, which resulted in the creation of a particle which is specifically called a muon and it was then passed through the chilled detector, which allowed scientists to find the real trajectory from where the neutrino had arrived to the South Pole.

"In order to get a measurable signal from the tiny fraction of neutrinos that do interact, neutrino physicists need to build extremely large detectors", explains Dr Susan Cartwright, a particle physicist at the University of Sheffield. This enormous energy showed that the particle must come from a distant celestial object: According to current knowledge, energy-rich neutrinos are formed as by-products in "cosmic particle accelerators" such as matter jets from black holes or exploding stars.

The team, comprising scientists from 12 countries, including researchers at Chiba University, said they detected the incredibly elusive and mysterious particles at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica in autumn 2017.

An worldwide team of astronomers has traced a ghostly neutrino back to its source, a spinning super-massive black hole at the heart of a "blazar" galaxy some four billion light years away. Therefore, one of its main components is a cubic kilometer of this ice, under the continent's surface, near the NSF South Pole research station. These black holes suck materials at intense rates while spewing streams of highly energized particles out into space at the same time. This blazar, designated by astronomers as TXS 0506+056, was first singled out following a neutrino alert sent by IceCube on September 22, 2017.

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When researchers reexamined archival IceCube data, they found the high-energy neutrinos all seemed to be coming from the same place, the distant blazars. When a neutrino very, very, very, very, very rarely hits an atomic nucleus in the ice, it produces a cone of blue light called Cerenkov radiation that spreads through the ice and is picked up by the photomultipliers. The search for the location of a single neutrino began when it was recorded by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole. Lower-energy neutrinos, for example, are produced prolifically in the fusion processes of stars like our sun.

A second line of investigation rectified this.

"The era of multi-messenger astrophysics is here", said National Science Foundation director France Cordova. Concurrently, the Swift and HESS instruments detected signs (e.g., gamma rays) consistent with flaring (the emission of cosmic rays) in TXS 0506+056. The likelihood of this excess being a mere statistical outlier is estimated at 1 in 5000, "a number that makes you prick up your ears", says Christopher Wiebusch from RWTH Aachen, whose group had already noted the hint of excess neutrinos from the direction of TXS 0506+056 in an earlier analysis. That's one small step toward a better understanding of our universe.

Once the trajectory of the neutrino was identified by IceCube, experts all over the world were alerted to look for flares or other outbursts in an effort to find its source. "We have a lot more out there to learn and see".

Cosmic rays are the highest energy particles ever observed, with energies up to 100 million times the energies of particles in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, the most powerful human-made particle accelerator.

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