In a cosmic first, scientists detect 'ghost particles'

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The observations are a step toward resolving a century-old riddle about what sends subatomic particles such as neutrinos and cosmic rays speeding through the universe.

The rays, consisting of fast moving elementary particles, rain down on Earth from space posing a threat to astronauts and even the crews and passengers of commercial jets.

When researchers pointed a variety of instruments in the direction from which the neutrino came, they located an extremely powerful blazar. This evidence made the scientists believe that the neutrino actually belongs to some place outside our galaxy. As it devours material around it, the black hole spews twin jets of particles moving at hundreds of millions of miles an hour, with one of those jets aimed in Earth's direction. But neutrinos have little or no mass, travel at almost the speed of light, are not electrically charged and rarely interact with normal matter.

"Fermi has been monitoring some 2,000 blazars for a decade, which is how we were able to identify this blazar as the neutrino source", said Regina Caputo, a coordinator for the Fermi Large Area Telescope collaboration.

University of Alberta astronomer Greg Sivakoff says tracing a single neutrino to a black hole four billion light-years distant will give researchers a whole new way to probe the universe's most exotic secrets.

Neutrinos are created by radioactive decay in stars, during supernovae, or as matter spirals into a black hole.

Astrophysicist Angela Olinto of the University of Chicago said that it is indicating the commencement of neutrino astronomy which utilizes nearly massless particles to divulge the enigma of cosmic mavericks like blazars.

The lure of neutrinos for astronomy is that it is possible to trace them back to their origins.

A tiny "ghost" subatomic particle, detected by scientists as it was racing through the Antarctic ice, may hold the key to the biggest mysteries of the universe and open up a new kind of astronomy based on the study of neutrinos. They detected a specific high-energy neutrino arriving on a vector that lined up with a specific blazar that was flaring gamma rays.

Acting as "messengers", neutrinos directly carry astronomical information from the far reaches of the Universe.

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.

MIT's physics professor and member of the IceCube Collaboration Janet Conrad, who is a co-author of both published papers, threw light on the journey of over 300 scientists from across the globe to uncover mysteries of the ascendingly energetic neutrinos and their sources. In the year 2015, scientists made a Nobel Prize-winning detection of gravitational waves, as predicted by Albert Einstein they are ripples in space-time.

As explained by a former IceCube spokesperson Olga Botner at a National Science Foundation press conference on this discovery on Thursday the observatory constitute a billion tons of ice, that may contain 100 undecillion atoms. "Now that we've identified a real source, we'll be able to focus in on other objects like this one, to understand more about these extreme events billions of years ago which set these particles racing towards our planet". It's a puzzle scientists have been trying to solve since the discovery of cosmic rays in 1912. Some 5,160 light sensors enter the smallest light of light produced during rare instances when neutrinos collide with the atomic nucleus in transparent ice.