Origin of ‘ghost particles’ FOUND: Tiny objects that pass through our bodies and planets undetected are emitted from galactic nuclei fueled by supermassive black holes in deep space
- “Ghost particles”, or neutrinos, are particles that come from deep space
- These particles have no mass and barely interact with matter
- Scientists think they come from galactic nuclei powered by supermassive black holes
- Blazars are known to emit jets of light and wind and are believed to also produce cosmic rays
Deep-space ‘ghost particles’ likely originate from galactic nuclei fueled by supermassive black holes, according to a new study that could unravel the mystery of these subatomic particles that formed before the universe.
Ghost particles, or neutrinos, have baffled scientists since their discovery in 1956 because they have no mass and barely interact with matter.
These tiny particles are electrically chargeless and travel through the universe almost entirely unaffected by objects or natural forces, but they are the second most common particles on Earth after photons.
Galactic nuclei, known as blazars, are galaxies with colossal black holes at their centers and are positioned with their jets pointed directly at Earth.
A team of researchers led by the University of Würzburg determined the source of the ghost particles by cross-referencing data on particle trajectories and the University of Würzburg’s location in the universe.
And they found that 10 of the 19 neutrino hotspots came from blazars.
The mission to unravel the mystery of ghost particles is vital as it will lead to a better understanding of how matter evolved from simple particles to complex particles that created everything around us.
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Artist’s impression of the active galactic nucleus where the ghostly subatomic particle likely originated
At the center of most galaxies, including ours, is a supermassive black hole that creates a disk of gas, dust and stellar debris around it.
As material from the disk falls toward the black hole, its gravitational energy can be transformed into light, making the centers of these galaxies very bright and qualifying them as active galactic nuclei (AGNs).
When a galaxy is located so that its jets point towards Earth, it is called a blazar and this is the common theory of what produces ghost particles.
This conclusion was determined by researchers who collected data from the IceCube neutrino observatory in Antarctica, which is the most sensitive neutrino detector on Earth, from 2008 to 2015.
The study determined that the ghost particles come from blazar by collecting particle data from the IceCube Neutrino observatory in Antarctica (pictured)
This was then cross-referenced with BZCat, a catalog of over 3,500 objects that are likely blazars.
The results showed that 10 of the 19 IceCube hotspots in the southern sky likely originated from blazars.
Dr Andrea Tramacere, a researcher in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Geneva, said in a statement“The discovery of these high-energy neutrino factories represents a major step for astrophysics.
“This puts us one step closer to solving the century-old mystery of the origin of cosmic rays.”
Scientists have been trying to study the elusive particles since they were first predicted by Wolfgang Pauli in 1931.
Many believe they may hold the key to understanding parts of the universe that otherwise remain hidden from view, such as dark matter and dark energy.
The high-energy neutrino was first detected on September 22, 2017 by the IceCube observatory, a huge facility sunk a mile below the South Pole.
Here, a grid of more than 5,000 super-sensitive sensors picked up the characteristic “Cherenkov” blue light emitted when the neutrino interacted with the ice.
The neutrino is thought to have been created by high-energy cosmic rays from the jets interacting with nearby matter.
Professor Paul O’Brien, a member of the international team of astronomers at the University of Leicester, said: ‘Neutrinos rarely interact with matter.
“To detect them at all from outer space is incredible, but to have a possible source identified is a triumph.
“This result will allow us to study the most distant and powerful energy sources in the universe in a completely new way.”