Space

‘Big Bird’ Neutrino Linked To Ancient Galaxy

supermassive black hole

Astrophysicists have recently traced Neutrino named “Big Bird” to an archaic exploding galaxy.

Back in December of 2012 physicists, located at the Antarctic IceCube Observatory discovered the biggest energy neutrino seen thus far. They were searching for neutrino events in a subsurface of glacial ice and traced about 100 high-energy neutrinos. The particle with the most energy was given the name of “Big Bird”. Thanks to the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, NASA has announced an estimated location and time where that particle originated. (Gamma-ray blazer, named PKS B1424-418). The study has been published in last week’s Nature Physics journal.

Neutrinos are unique in that they are invisible to electricity, light and even matter. This is why the finding is so astounding because these particles require massive detectors, such as the cubic-kilometer one used in the observations, with photomultiplier tubes and sensors that can trace the smallest of flickers of light to be seen. Only when neutrinos produce a single electron or nuon are any readings picked up at all.

A glimpse at a neutrino is like looking directly at a part of the distant parts of the universe. These particles travel millions of light years before making their way to Earth and because of their great power; they are able to remain completely intact. Since neutrinos contain a million times the energy of a dental X-ray, with a size of one-millionth an electron, it’s a good thing they do not interact with the matter surrounding them.

Back in 2012, the Large Area Telescope caught sight of a flaring located in the galaxy PKS B1424-418 over 9 billion light years from planet Earth. That flare was displaying galaxy information from the galaxy about 8 billion years in the past. This active galaxy is called a blazer due to its supermassive black hole core. The flares were actually energized particles being shot outward.

The current report explains that identification of the neutrino came from a very large outburst, explaining the coinciding petaelectronvolt-neutrino event. It’s about correlation in this case, because the IceCube experiment can only narrow down the original location of “Big Bird”. Because of the flaring incident a few years ago, scientists are calling PKS B1424-418 the home of the neutrino within about 5% margin of error.

While there is still a lot to be learned about neutrinos and the origins of cosmic rays, as IceCube continues tracking and observing, our understanding of the galaxy as a whole can only increase from here. As technology naturally advances and there is more data collected, along with samples that are bound to find their way to planet Earth, a lot of information is expected to unveil itself giving us an entirely new picture of what is out there in this massive galaxy we are a part of.