Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Peculiar Cosmic Rays’ Source Revealed by ‘Ghost Particle’

Scientists Track 'Ghost Particle' to Source for First Time Scientists Discover Origin of a Black Hole Ghost Particle
Doris Mccormick | 17 July, 2018, 10:15

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.

Neutrinos are uncharged subatomic particles that typically go by the trillion through our bodies and all aspects of the Earth each second, however, they once in a while associated with issue - a reality that makes them hard to identify.

The findings, confirmed by ground- and space-based telescopes around the globe, demonstrated the advantage of combining the signals from different cosmic messengers, like neutrinos and photons. The eligible sky region was investigated across the electromagnetic spectrum - with success: "We have seen an active galaxy, a large galaxy with a huge black hole in the center", said Marek Kowalski, head of neutrino astronomy at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron in Germany. And a Duke researcher not involved with the study tells Space.com that these "weird particles may hold the key to some of the biggest mysteries about the universe", adding, "We have to understand them if we want to understand everything".

Most neutrinos arriving at Earth derive from the Sun, but those that reach us with the highest energies are thought to stem from the same sources as cosmic rays.

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.

But not only that, with a timely observational campaign of more than a dozen earth and space observatories, the path of that one neutrino could be traced back to its source. But neutrinos have little or no mass, travel at almost the speed of light, are not electrically charged and rarely interact with normal matter. They detected a flare of high-energy gamma rays associated with TXS 0506+056. 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. The observation of a neutrino, a hallmark of proton interactions, is the first definitive evidence of proton acceleration by black holes. Very infrequently, a neutrino will bump into another particle, creating a marker. With that further evidence, TXS 0506 is the first known accelerator of high-energy neutrinos and cosmic rays.

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The black hole in question is emitting jets of light and radiation which are pointing in Earth's direction.

Still, blazars weren't the prime suspects in the search for the source of cosmic rays. Because the charged particle and the light it creates stay essentially true to the neutrino's original direction, they give scientists a path to follow back to the source. TXS 0506+056 is among the 100 most luminous sources in the known universe, Whitehorn said. "We have a lot more out there to learn and see". Cosmic rays are the highest energy particles ever observed, with energies up to a hundred million times the energies of particles in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, the most powerful human-made particle accelerator.

Not only that, but as neutrinos travel practically unhindered through the vastness of space (unlike other particles, neutrinos only interact via the weak nuclear force) they have the potential to map the sky like astronomers now do with light at differing wavelengths, but at higher energies. NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) Telescope in the Canary Islands.

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 from late 2014 and early 2105, coincident with the same blazar, TXS 0506+056.

"This is how we were able to know where in the sky the neutrino was coming from".

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