Members of the science community are proclaiming a new era in space research after discovering the first verified source of a super-energetic subatomic particle called a high-energy neutrino.
Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University say that these neutrinos contain energies that are thousands to millions of times greater than those generated by particle colliders/accelerators such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research’s (CERN) Large Hadron Collider, located on the border between France and Switzerland.
Using ground and space-based telescopes, a global team of scientists was able to trace the path of one of these particles to a flaring supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy some 3.7 billion light-years away in the Orion constellation.
The neutrino itself was detected on September 22, 2017, at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica.
According to the National Science Foundation, a new system that sends alerts to telescopes around the world was activated in less than a minute after the subatomic particle crashed into one of the observatory’s underground detectors buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice.
The alert included the incoming neutrino’s coordinates to help the telescopes zero in on its possible pathway.
The discovery comes after astronomers spent decades trying to detect and find out where and how these ghostly little particles are produced.
The team’s findings were published in two papers in the journal Science. – (Paper 1 – Paper 2)
“Each messenger — from electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves and now neutrinos — gives us a more complete understanding of the universe, and important new insights into the most powerful objects and events in the sky,” commented France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation, in an NSF press release.