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Picture: Robert Wagner/MAGIC Collaboration

MAGIC telescopes identify the origins of a cosmic neutrino

Source: Notícies UB
Published on 13.07.2018

MAGIC telescopes have identified the origins of a cosmic neutrino for the first time. Astrophysicists have found the source of a cosmic neutrino coming from outside the Milky Way. It is likely for the neutrino to come from a blazar, an active black hole in the center of a distant galaxy in Orion. To achieve this, researchers combined a detected sign from the observatory of neutrinos in the Southern Hemisphere, IceCube, with the telescopes Fermi-LAT and MAGIC. Researchers from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the UB took part in this research, which could provide more views to solve a mystery: the origins of primary radiation and has been published in Science.

Neutrinos are particles that do not interact with our surroundings. Although these are hard to detect, neutrinos are important cosmic messengers since they bring exceptional information on the areas where these are created.

“Although we can detect a great amount of neutrinos with current technology, a big part of these have atmospheric origins and energy below 100 teraelectronvolts (TeV). Actually, the number of high-energy neutrinos is not higher than seven per year. However, the estimation of their origins is not good in general, and it is hard to identify potential objects in the sky. In this case, the estimation was right, and it coincided with an erupting blazer which can be identified as a potential electromagnetic counterpart”, say Marc Ribó and Josep M. Paredes, researchers at ICCUB in the MAGIC telescope collaboration.

The main specialized detector to identify these elusive particles is IceCube, located in the South Pole. This observatory detects around 200 neutrinos per day, but most of those are low-energy and produced by cosmic rays that interact with the terrestrial atmosphere.

A neutrino that unchained multi-messenger observations

On September 22, 2017, IceCube detected a different neutrino, its high energy (about 290 TeV) showed that the particle could have appeared in a faraway sky object. Scientists could also determine its direction with high precision.

Fermi-LAT, a space observatory which studies the whole sky, noted that the direction of the neutrino was alienated with an active gamma ray source (high energy photons): the TXS 0506+056 blazar. Also, the 17-meter MAGIC telescopes, which detect high-energy gamma rays from Earth, found that radiation of the blazar reached energies of at least 0,5 TeV.

These findings, together with the direction of the neutrino, make the blazar a potential candidate for the neutrino source. TXS 0506+056 is a galaxy active nucleus, at a 4,500 million year light distance from the Earth. It has a supermassive blackhole emitting a flow of particles and energetic radiation that move at the speed of light, known as jets.

The creation of neutrinos is always related to proton interactions, observations can help solving the origins of cosmic radiation, found by the physicist Victor Hess in 1912.

MAGIC telescopes

MAGIC Cherenkov telescopes are in the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (La Palma, Canary Islands). The Spanish community has taken part in MAGIC since its beginnings in the following public research centers: the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics (IAC), the Institute for High Energy Physics (IFAE), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), University of Barcelona (UB) and the Complutense University of Madrid. Also, the MAGIC data center is the Scientific Information Port (PIC), collaboration between IFAE and the Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT).

New From: Notícies UB