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“Seeing” Double: Neutrinos and Photons Observed from the Same Cosmic Source

12 Jul 2018, 16:59 UTC
“Seeing” Double: Neutrinos and Photons Observed from the Same Cosmic Source
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There has long been a question as to what types of events and processes are responsible for the highest-energy neutrinos coming from space and observed by scientists. Another question, probably related, is what creates the majority of high-energy cosmic rays — the particles, mostly protons, that are constantly raining down upon the Earth.
As scientists’ ability to detect high-energy neutrinos (particles that are hugely abundant, electrically neutral, very light-weight, and very difficult to observe) and high-energy photons (particles of light, though not necessarily of visible light) have become more powerful and precise, there’s been considerable hope of getting an answer to these question. One of the things we’ve been awaiting (and been disappointed a couple of times) is a violent explosion out in the universe that produces both high-energy photons and neutrinos at the same time, at a high enough rate that both types of particles can be observed at the same time coming from the same direction.
In recent years, there has been some indirect evidence that blazars — narrow jets of particles, pointed in our general direction like the barrel of a gun, and created as material swirls near and almost into giant black holes in the centers ...

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