High-energy neutrino traced to an object outside of our galaxy • Earth.com

High-energy neutrino traced to an object outside of our galaxy

02-24-2021


Today’s Video of the Day from NASA’S Goddard Space Flight Center describes the elusive nature of high-energy neutrinos, which have almost no mass and rarely interact with other matter.

For just the second time ever, scientists have traced a neutrino to an object outside of our galaxy. The neutrino was formed during a tidal disruption event in which a star was torn apart by a black hole. 

“Astrophysicists have long theorized that tidal disruptions could produce high-energy neutrinos, but this is the first time we’ve actually been able to connect them with observational evidence,” said Robert Stein, a doctoral student at the German Electron-Synchrotron (DESY) research center in Zeuthen, Germany. “But it seems like this particular event, called AT2019dsg, didn’t generate the neutrino when or how we expected. It’s helping us better understand how these phenomena work.” 

Neutrinos are subatomic particles similar to electrons, yet have no electrical charge. These particles far outnumber all the atoms in the universe. According to NASA, high-energy neutrinos have energies up to 1,000 times greater than those produced by the most powerful particle colliders on Earth. 

Violent galactic outbursts and other extreme events accelerate particles to nearly the speed of light. These particles then collide with light or other particles to produce high-energy neutrinos. 

The first confirmed source of a high-energy neutrino was a blazar, which is one of the most luminous and energetic objects in the known universe.

Video Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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