News & Opinion | July 13, 2018 12:14 pm

Scientists Find Previous Outbursts of Neutrinos in the Galaxy

There was an enormous neutrino outburst in 2014 and 2015.

Blazar emission with neutrino reaches IceCube (YouTube)

On September 22, 2017, a particle called a neutrino came from the sky and through the ice of Antarctica at nearly the speed of light. This triggered an array of detectors called IceCube, which alerted astronomical satellites, including the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which was able to track the neutrino back to an obscure dot in the sky in a galaxy known as TXS 0506+056. Astronomers around the world went to their telescopes to get in on the fun, but IceCube scientists instead scoured over their previous data. They found that there had been previous outbursts of neutrinos from the galaxy, including a massive outburst in 2014 and 2015.

Astronomers believe this discovery could help them finally answer the question of where the rain of high-energy particles from space known as cosmic rays come from.

“We have found the first source of cosmic rays,” said Francis Halzen, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and IceCube’s director, in an interview with The New York Times.