Astronomers tracked mysterious neutrinos from supermassive black holes
US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Neutrinos are mysterious, almost elusive particles. They have a tiny mass, there is no electric charge, and they practically do not interact with other matter.
At any given time, about 100 billion neutrinos fly through every square centimeter of your body. Neutrinos were created by a big bang, and still sprout from stars to supernovae.
Some particularly strange neutrinos were discovered by the Antarctic Pulse Transition Antenna (ANITA). Unlike most neutrino detectors, which are large sensitive arrays, ANITA is a balloon-mounted radio detector. It can detect high-energy neutrinos only when they collide with Antarctic ice, creating a flash of radio emission.
Earlier this year, ANITA discovered strange signals that seemed to be caused by extremely high-energy neutrinos. These neutrinos had such high energies that they seemed to defy the standard model of particle physics.
High energy neutrinos were also detected by the IceCube neutrino detector in Antarctica. They are not as energetic as those found by ANITA, but they can give clues about how high-energy neutrinos are generated.
Recently, a team of scientists examined one of the possible sources: supermassive black holes.
Supermassive black holes are gravitational power plants. When the hot gas surrounding them is compressed by gravitational and electromagnetic fields, it can radiate a huge amount of energy, including high-energy neutrinos.
Thus, the team compared four dozen IceCube neutrino detections with radio observations from the Russian RATAN-600 radio telescope. And they discovered that neutrinos were detected at those moments when the quasar flashed with radio emission.
The most likely explanation is that when quasars are especially active, gamma rays collide with surrounding atoms, causing a neutrino explosion.
Since neutrinos move at a speed close to the speed of light, they arrive on Earth simultaneously with a radio burst.
This is only the beginning of the study, and it solves a part of the riddle of high-energy neutrinos. Now we know one way how these neutrinos can arise, but the origin of the most energetic of the neutrinos remains unknown.
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