If we were to make a list of really unusual cosmic phenomenon, then the odds are that neutrinos will end up ranking pretty high on that list. As a matter of fact, these particular subatomic particles do not pack an electrical charge or any specific mass at all. Nevertheless, they are practically everywhere and they have the remarkably uncanny ability to pass though just about anything and everything. As a matter of fact, it has been estimated that around 100 trillion of them easily pass through the human body just about every second or so.
The scientific community had initially started theorizing about the existence of neutrinos around 80 years back and by the mid-50s, there was official confirmation of their existence.
The Primary Sources of Neutrino Particles
There are two primary sources of neutrinos; the supernova SN 1987A and our very own Sun. However, in 2013, many researchers were able to discover a hitherto unknown type of neutrino that was dubbed the “high-energy neutrino”. While its existence was not doubted, no one really knew where it had actually originated from, that is until now.
Researchers at the giant ‘Ice Cube’ Neutrino Observatory that is located at the South Pole had been able to detect very high energy neutrinos that were observed to be emanating from one specific area in space. Once the general area of the cosmos had been identified, around twenty other observatories quickly swung into action and concentrated on the position. Finally, after many months of hectic observation, all of these observatories came together to collectively determine the exact source of this very high energy neutrino particle.
It has originated from TXS 0506+056. This is a ‘blazar’ that is located approximately 4 billion light years from our planet. In cosmological terms, a blazar can be defined as a specific type of elliptical galaxy that has a fast spinning black hole located at its very center.
What Does the Discovery of a High Energy Neutrino Mean for Astronomy as a Whole?
This very first evidence of an active galaxy being able to emit these neutrino particles actually means that it is possible that we may soon be able to observe the universe around us, using the knowledge we glean from neutrinos and learn more about these elusive particles in various different ways. This would otherwise be absolutely impossible with just light and radio-based astronomy alone.
By identifying a real source of these high-energy neutrino particles, the work of these observatories has effectively helped usher in an entirely new epoch in the science of astronomy, as it exists today.