A blazar fires neutrinos and gamma rays billions of lightyears across the Universe until they hit Earth. Image Credit: IceCube/NASA
A burst of neutrinos – difficult to observe particles that can traverse the entire Universe – has just been tracked back to the flaring of a black hole jet at the centre of a galaxy four billion lightyears away.
These found that a blazar – a galaxy with a rapidly spinning black hole that fires out jets of particles – had flared in the region at the same time the neutrinos were emitted, suggesting that it was the source.
“To detect them at all from the cosmos is amazing, but to have a possible source identified is a triumph.
This result will allow us to study the most distant, powerful energy sources in the Universe in a completely new way.”
“This event – the first time we’ve been able to associate light with the source of a high-energy neutrino – occurred less than 5 weeks after the first joint detection of light and gravitational waves,” says Phil Evans, the development scientist for Swift.
“We truly are entering the era of multi-messenger astronomy.”