Solving the Mystery of Cosmic Rays | Origins | UW-Madison
Solving the Mystery of Cosmic Rays | Origins | UW-Madison
Scientists Discover Origin of a Black Hole Ghost Particle
17 July, 2018, 10:12
Demonstrating the presence of neutrinos is extremely complicated, however, because most of the ghostly particles travel right through the entire Earth without leaving a trace.
"One hundred billion neutrinos go through your thumbnail every second, but in all likelihood not a single one of them will ever hit an atom of your thumb in your lifetime", said Penn State physicist Doug Cowen, another of the researchers.
Projects such as ARRIANNA and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station are now on the look-out for neutrinos and it is the latter that has pinned down the location of a steam of neutrinos pouring out from a blazer; a powerful, energetic jet at the heart of an active galactic nucleus surrounding a supermassive black hole. This blazar, designated by astronomers as TXS 0506+056, was first singled out following a neutrino alert sent by IceCube on September 22, 2017.
Now, through the neutrino discovered in Antarctica, experts finally have the answer: the blazar, a giant elliptical galaxy with a massive and rapidly spinning black hole. Subsequent research showed that cosmic rays are either protons, electrons, or atomic nuclei that have been accelerated to speeds approaching that of light, giving some of them energies much greater than those of even the most energetic electromagnetic waves.
The worldwide concerted effort detected that the neutrino was coming from a galaxy almost 4 billion light-years away - the blazar - that was located in the constellation of Orion. The neutral charge of neutrinos instead means they are unaffected by magnetic fields and because they pass nearly entirely through matter, they can be used to trace a straight path all the way back to their source. Because they interact with matter at only very small subatomic distances and have nearly no mass - hence their nickname "ghost particle" - neutrinos travel in a straight line from where they originate, breezing through planets, stars and entire galaxies, giving scientists a pointer nearly directly to their source.
The twin jets of light and elementary particles that emanate from the blazar are so bright because one is pointing directly at Earth.
Fermi scientist Yasuyuki Tanaka at Hiroshima University in Japan was the first to associate the neutrino event with the blazar designated TXS 0506+056 (TXS 0506 for short). Theory predicts neutrino emission will be accompanied by gamma radiation, but many questions remain about how blazars are able to boost such particles to such extreme energies.
Scientists plan to continue searching for neutrino detections and hope to discover if neutrinos can be produced by celestial objects other than blazars.
Blazars are probably not the only sources for high-energy neutrinos or high-energy cosmic rays, Prof.
"We're trying to look for more sources and trying to look for more correlations between neutrinos and photons", Neilson said. "In the follow-up observation of the neutrino, we were able to observe the blazar in the range of very high-energy gamma radiation too, using the MAGIC telescope system on the Canary Island La Palma", says DESY's Elisa Bernardini, who coordinates the MAGIC observations. Scientists can not generate such high vitality particles on Earth so we have to depend on heavens to strengthen our comprehension of the elevated vitality processes, said Córdova, the director of the National Science Foundation, which funded IceCube.
"We can do that quite precisely, so that we can measure the direction of [the neutrino's] track".
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