Scientists find evidence of far-distant neutrino source

Scientists find evidence of far-distant neutrino source

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

Two papers on the discovery have been published here and here in the journal Science.

"These intriguing results also represent the remarkable culmination of thousands of human years of intensive activities by the IceCube Collaboration to bring the dream of neutrino astronomy to reality", said Darren Grant, a professor of physics at the University of Alberta and the spokesperson of the IceCube Collaboration, an worldwide team with more than 300 scientists in 12 countries. "For 20 years, one of our dreams as a collaboration was to identify the sources of high-energy cosmic neutrinos, and it looks like we've finally done it!"

"These intriguing results represent the remarkable culmination of thousands of human years of intensive activities by the IceCube Collaboration to bring the dream of neutrino astronomy to reality", said U of A physics professor Darren Grant, IceCube spokesperson and Canada Research Chair in Astroparticle Physics, speaking of the global team made up of more than 300 scientists from 12 countries.

"There have been previous claims that blazar flares were associated with the production of neutrinos, but this, the first confirmation, is absolutely fundamental". 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.

There's still a lot of work to do from here; scientists must figure out why this particular blazar is sending out neutrinos and cosmic rays.

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The IceCube had a window between April and October in 2017 to detect neutrinos issuing from the blazar. Collisions between high-energy neutrinos and atomic nuclei are very rare but produce an unmistakable signature - a characteristic cone of blue light that is mapped through the detector's grid of 5,000 photomultiplier tubes. Within minutes of recording the neutrino, the IceCube detector automatically alerted numerous other astronomical observatories.

For centuries we've been known that peeping through the universe is cosmic rays; originates far beyond our Galaxy. All in all, seven optical observatories (the ASAS-SN, Liverpool, Kanata, Kiso Schmidt, SALT and Subaru telescopes, as well as the Very Large Telescope VLT of the European Southern Observatory, ESO) observed the active galaxy, and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) studied its activity in the radio spectrum.

An artist's impression of a super-massive black hole at the heart of a blazar galaxy shooting a high-energy beam of radiation into space. "We calculated that the probability of it being a mere coincidence was around 1 in 1000", explains DESY's Anna Franckowiak, who was in charge of the statistical analysis of the various different data sets.

Following the September 22 detection, the IceCube team quickly scoured the detector's archival data and discovered a flare of more than a dozen astrophysical neutrinos detected in late 2014 and early 2015, coincident with the same blazar, TXS 0506+056. TXS 0506+056 is a type of quasar known as a blazar, in which our line of sight from Earth is along the jet - right down the gun barrel. Neutrinos go as straight through the universe as Einsteinian gravity will allow. But the powerful, naturally occurring cosmic accelerators that produce cosmic rays also produce cosmic neutrinos. In 2013, researchers analyzing data from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory near the South Pole in Antarctica discovered higher-energy astrophysical neutrinos and have been seeking their sources ever since.

"We've proven that neutrons are that third tool - to better understand the wonderful and weird things that are out there", MIT physicist Lindley Winslow told Mashable.

And the lasting result is a new way in front of us to see and get full information of some of the most powerful forces which exist in our universe.

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