In DepthParticle Astrophysics

Rare cosmic neutrino traced to star-shredding black hole

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Science  26 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6532, pp. 872
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6532.872

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Summary

Neutrinos are everywhere, streaming through your body by the trillions every second. But the chargeless, nearly massless particles are notoriously hard to pin down, especially the rare high-energy ones from deep space. Only about a dozen cosmic neutrinos are detected annually, and only one had been linked to a source in the sky. Now, IceCube, a kilometer-wide neutrino detector nestled deep beneath the South Pole, has traced another one to its birthplace: a supermassive black hole tearing a star to pieces in a galaxy 750 million light-years away. The discovery suggests these rare tidal disruption events could be a major source of high-energy neutrinos and cosmic rays—other deep-space visitors whose origins have also been a mystery.

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