The black hole “spit” towards the Earth: an underground observatory in Antarctica caught a stream of neutrinos
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An observatory in Antarctica has detected a neutrino source for the second time in history, and it is located in the center of a spiral galaxy 47 million light-years away.
The detectors of the IceCube neutrino observatory, which are located deep under the ice in Antarctica, recorded a stream of elusive fundamental particles – neutrinos. And this stream came to us from a supermassive black hole, which is located in the center of the galaxy NGC 1068 or M 77, which is located in the constellation Cetus at a distance of 47 million light years from Earth. For the second time in history, scientists have discovered a source of neutrinos, also called ghost particles. This discovery may help to understand what is happening inside the supermassive black monsters, writes Space.
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Neutrinos are very strange, although one of the most common particles in the Universe. They have almost zero mass and no electrical charge, and they hardly interact with any type of matter in the universe. That is why they are difficult to detect and why they are called ghost particles. Due to their weak interaction with matter, neutrinos can travel unobstructed over vast distances in a straight line from their sources.
It is this neutrino flux that scientists have discovered with the help of the IceCube observatory. It turned out that these particles flew out from the center of a spiral galaxy that looks like the Milky Way, called NGC 1068. Unlike our galaxy, this object contains a lot of dust, stars explode here more often, and there is also a more massive black hole.
This huge black hole is actively absorbing the surrounding matter and releasing powerful radiation into space, including and neutrino fluxes. But the center of the galaxy is hidden by a very thick layer of dust, and these radiation fluxes are not so clearly visible from Earth. But neutrinos can pass through any matter and therefore reach the Earth in their original form.
“Thanks to these neutrino flows, we can learn more about what is happening in the active core of this galaxy, about what processes prevail there. Other radiation does not leave this galaxy, and therefore this is the only way,” says Gary Hill from the University of Adelaide, Australia.
The new discovery is very important for astrophysicists, because they managed to detect the source of cosmic neutrinos only for the second time in history. The IceCube observatory first discovered such a source in the active core of the galaxy TXS 0506+056 four years ago. This galaxy is in the constellation of Orion and is 100 times further away than NGC 1068, but it also shoots out a stream of neutrinos from its center that travels through space at almost the speed of light.
As for the IceCube neutrino observatory, then she began her work back in 2010 in Antarctica. It has more than 5 thousand detectors in its arsenal, which are immersed in ice to a depth of 1.5 to 2.5 km.
Scientists have previously assumed that such active black holes, as in the center of the galaxy NGC 1068, can accelerate particles and send them further into space along with radiation fluxes. Now scientists are working on upgrading the neutrino observatory, which will allow to discover many more sources of ghost particles in the Universe.
As Focus already wrote, a recent study showed that active galactic nuclei can be sources of neutrinos , which are called blazars.