PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
FREE PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Ghost particle from shredded star reveals cosmic particle accelerator

From a black hole to the South Pole: Scientists identify first neutrino from a tidal disruption event

Ghost particle from shredded star reveals cosmic particle accelerator
2021-02-22
(Press-News.org) Tracing back a ghostly particle to a shredded star, scientists have uncovered a gigantic cosmic particle accelerator. The subatomic particle, called a neutrino, was hurled towards Earth after the doomed star came too close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of its home galaxy and was ripped apart by the black hole's colossal gravity. It is the first particle that can be traced back to such a 'tidal disruption event' (TDE) and provides evidence that these little understood cosmic catastrophes can be powerful natural particle accelerators, as the team led by DESY scientist Robert Stein reports in the journal Nature Astronomy. The observations also demonstrate the power of exploring the cosmos via a combination of different 'messengers' such as photons (the particles of light) and neutrinos, also known as multi-messenger astronomy.

The neutrino began its journey some 700 million years ago, around the time the first animals developed on Earth. That is the travel time the particle needed to get from the far-away, unnamed galaxy (catalogued as 2MASX J20570298+1412165) in the constellation Delphinus (The Dolphin) to Earth. Scientists estimate that the enormous black hole is as massive as 30 million suns. "The force of gravity gets stronger and stronger, the closer you get to something. That means the black hole's gravity pulls the star's near side more strongly than the star's far side, leading to a stretching effect," explains Stein. "This difference is called a tidal force, and as the star gets closer, this stretching becomes more extreme. Eventually it rips the star apart, and then we call it a tidal disruption event. It's the same process that leads to ocean tides on Earth, but luckily for us the moon doesn't pull hard enough to shred the Earth."

About half of the star's debris was flung into space, while the other half settled on a swirling disc around the black hole. This 'accretion disc' is somewhat similar to the vortex of water above the drain of a bathtub. Before plunging into oblivion, the matter from the accretion disc gets hotter and hotter and shines brightly. This glow was first detected by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) on Mount Palomar in California on 9 April 2019.

Half a year later, on 1 October 2019 the IceCube neutrino detector at the South Pole registered an extremely energetic neutrino from the direction of the tidal disruption event. "It smashed into the Antarctic ice with a remarkable energy of more than 100 teraelectronvolts," says co-author Anna Franckowiak from DESY, who is now a professor at the University of Bochum. "For comparison, that's at least ten times the maximum particle energy that can be achieved in the world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider at the European particle physics lab CERN near Geneva."

Extreme lightweight

The extremely lightweight neutrinos hardly interact with anything, able to pass unnoticed through not just walls but whole planets or stars, and are hence often referred to as ghost particles. So, even catching just one high-energy neutrino is already a remarkable observation. Analysis showed that this particular neutrino had only a one in 500 chance of being purely coincidental with the TDE. The detection prompted further observations of the event with many instruments across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to X-rays.

"This is the first neutrino linked to a tidal disruption event, and it brings us valuable evidence," explains Stein. "Tidal disruption events are not well understood. The detection of the neutrino points to the existence of a central, powerful engine near the accretion disc, spewing out fast particles. And the combined analysis of data from radio, optical and ultraviolet telescopes gives us additional evidence that the TDE acts as a gigantic particle accelerator."

The observations are best explained by an energetic outflow of fast jets of matter shooting out of the system, that are produced by the central engine and that last for hundreds of days. This is also what is needed to explain the observational data, as Walter Winter, head of the theoretical astroparticle physics group at DESY, and his colleague theorist Cecilia Lunardini from Arizona State University, have shown in a theoretical model published in the same issue of Nature Astronomy. "The neutrino emerged relatively late, half a year after the star feast had started. Our model explains this timing naturally," says Winter.

The cosmic accelerator spews out different types of particles, but apart from neutrinos and photons, these particles are electrically charged and thus deflected by intergalactic magnetic fields on their journey. Only the electrically neutral neutrinos can travel on a straight line like light from the source towards Earth and so become valuable messengers from such systems.

"The combined observations demonstrate the power of multi-messenger astronomy," says co-author Marek Kowalski, head of neutrino astronomy at DESY and a professor at Humboldt University in Berlin. "Without the detection of the tidal disruption event, the neutrino would be just one of many. And without the neutrino, the observation of the tidal disruption event would be just one of many. Only through the combination could we find the accelerator and learn something new about the processes inside." The association of the high-energy neutrino and the tidal disruption event was found by a sophisticated software package called AMPEL, specifically developed at DESY to search for correlations between IceCube neutrinos and astrophysical objects detected by the Zwicky Transient Facility.

Tip of the iceberg?

The Zwicky Transient Facility was designed to capture hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies in a single shot and can survey the night sky particularly fast. At its heart is the 1.3 m diameter Samuel-Oschin Telescope. Thanks to its large field of view, ZTF can scan the entire sky over three nights, finding more variable and transient objects than any other optical survey before it. "Since our start in 2018 we have detected over 30 tidal disruption events so far, more than doubling the known number of such objects," says Sjoert van Velzen from Leiden Observatory, co-author of the study. "When we realised that the second brightest TDE observed by us was the source of a high-energy neutrino registered by IceCube, we were thrilled."

"We might only be seeing the tip of the iceberg here. In the future, we expect to find many more associations between high-energy neutrinos and their sources," says Francis Halzen, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Principal Investigator of IceCube, who was not directly involved in the study. "There is a new generation of telescopes being built that will provide greater sensitivity to TDEs and other prospective neutrino sources. Even more essential is the planned extension of the IceCube neutrino detector, that would increase the number of cosmic neutrino detections at least tenfold." This TDE marks only the second time, a high-energy cosmic neutrino could be traced back to its source. In 2018, a multi-messenger campaign presented an active galaxy, the blazar TXS 0506+056, as the first ever identified source of a high-energy neutrino, recorded by IceCube in 2017.

INFORMATION:

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is a facility of the U.S. National Science Foundation operated at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station under the U.S. Antarctic Program. Apart from IceCube and ZTF, the instruments Spectral Energy Distribution Machine (SEDM), Palomar 200-inch Hale Telescope (P200), Liverpool Telescope (LT), NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, Lowell Discovery Telescope, Lick Observatory Shane Telescope, Keck Telescope, ESA's X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton), Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), AMI Large Array (AMI-LA), MeerKAT, and NASA's Fermi Large Area Telescope (Fermi-LAT) provided observational data for the study.

DESY is one of the world's leading particle accelerator centres and investigates the structure and function of matter - from the interaction of tiny elementary particles and the behaviour of novel nanomaterials and vital biomolecules to the great mysteries of the universe. The particle accelerators and detectors that DESY develops and builds at its locations in Hamburg and Zeuthen are unique research tools. They generate the most intense X-ray radiation in the world, accelerate particles to record energies and open up new windows onto the universe. DESY is a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany's largest scientific association, and receives its funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (90 per cent) and the German federal states of Hamburg and Brandenburg (10 per cent).

Reference:

- A tidal disruption event coincident with a high-energy neutrino; Robert Stein, Sjoert van Velzen, Marek Kowalski, et al.; Nature Astronomy, 2021, DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-01295-8

- A concordance scenario for the observed neutrino from a tidal discruption event; Walter Winter and Cecilia Lunardini; Nature Astronomy, 2021, DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01305-3


[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Ghost particle from shredded star reveals cosmic particle accelerator

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

'Mini brain' organoids grown in lab mature much like infant brains

Mini brain organoids grown in lab mature much like infant brains
2021-02-22
A new study from UCLA and Stanford University researchers finds that three-dimensional human stem cell-derived 'mini brain' organoids can mature in a manner that is strikingly similar to human brain development. For the new study, published in Nature Neuroscience February 22, senior authors Dr. Daniel Geschwind of UCLA and Dr. Sergiu Pasca of Stanford University conducted extensive genetic analysis of organoids that had been grown for up to 20 months in a lab dish. They found that these 3D organoids follow an internal clock that guides their maturation in sync with the timeline of human development. "This is novel -- Until now, nobody has grown and characterized these organoids for this amount of time, nor shown they will recapitulate human brain development in a laboratory environment ...

New dating techniques reveal Australia's oldest known rock painting, and it's a kangaroo

2021-02-22
A two-metre-long painting of a kangaroo in Western Australia's Kimberley region has been identified as Australia's oldest intact rock painting. Using the radiocarbon dating of 27 mud wasp nests, collected from over and under 16 similar paintings, a University of Melbourne collaboration has put the painting at 17,500 and 17,100 years old. "This makes the painting Australia's oldest known in-situ painting," said Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Damien Finch who pioneered the exciting new radiocarbon technique. "This is a significant find as through these initial estimates, we can understand something of the ...

Association of timing of school closings, behavioral changes with evolution of COVID-19 pandemic in US

2021-02-22
What The Study Did: Using COVID-19 data, this observational study looked at what are the independent associations of voluntary behavioral change and legal restrictions, such as state-mandated school closings, with the subsequent spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Authors: Frederick J. Zimmerman, Ph.D., of the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA in Los Angeles, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6371) Editor's Note: The article includes ...

Scientists link star-shredding event to origins of universe's highest-energy particles

2021-02-22
A team of scientists has detected the presence of a high-energy neutrino--a particularly elusive particle--in the wake of a star's destruction as it is consumed by a black hole. This discovery, reported in the journal Nature Astronomy, sheds new light on the origins of Ultrahigh Energy Cosmic Rays--the highest energy particles in the Universe. The work, which included researchers from more than two dozen institutions, including New York University and Germany's DESY research center, focused on neutrinos--subatomic particles that are produced on Earth only in powerful ...

Trauma admissions during COVID-19 pandemic in LA county

2021-02-22
What The Study Did: Researchers examined changes in trauma admissions throughout Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic in California. Authors: Kazuhide Matsushima, M.D., of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.1320) Editor's Note: The article includes funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, conflict of interest and financial disclosures, ...

New technique reveals switches in RNA

New technique reveals switches in RNA
2021-02-22
Scientists at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Torino (Italy), have developed a method to visualize and quantify alternative structures of RNA molecules. These alternative RNA 'shapes' can have important functional relevance in viruses and bacteria. The researchers used an algorithm to rapidly analyse large quantities of chemically modified RNA molecules and calculate how many differently folded conformations were present. This technique was used to identify a conserved structural switch in the ...

Patient page: Teen vaping

2021-02-22
What The Article Says: How parents can identify whether their teens are vaping, how to help prevent it, and what to do if their teen is addicted are discussed in this JAMA Pediatrics Patient Page. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6689) Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, conflict of interest and financial disclosures, and funding and support. INFORMATION: Media advisory: The full article is linked to this news release. Embed this link to provide your readers free access to the full-text article This link will be live at the embargo time https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6689?guestAccessKey=8fe3a04c-4e0a-40f3-a883-916eaadb05bb&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=022221 ...

State legislation related to abortion services

2021-02-22
What The Study Did: This survey study looked at changes in abortion policies among states by examining legislation enacted between January 2017 and November 2020. Authors: Phillip M. Singer, Ph.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.8781) Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, conflict of interest and financial disclosures, and funding ...

Genomic insights into the origin of pre-historic populations in East Asia

Genomic insights into the origin of pre-historic populations in East Asia
2021-02-22
Diverse East Asians derive ancestry from a coastal expansion tens of thousands of years ago Researchers have long debated whether the peopling of East Asia by modern humans occurred mainly via a coastal or interior route. The answer is probably both. "Indigenous Andaman islanders of the Bay of Bengal, Indigenous Tibetans, ancient Taiwanese, and ancient and modern Japanese all derive ancestry from a deep shared lineage that split from other East Asian lineages more than 40,000 years ago," says David Reich, co-senior author of the study, who is a Professor of Genetics ...

New therapeutic approach may help treat age-related macular degeneration effectively

New therapeutic approach may help treat age-related macular degeneration effectively
2021-02-22
Philadelphia, February 22, 2021 - Runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) has been linked to retinal neovascularization and the development of abnormal blood vessels, which result in vision loss in diabetic retinopathy. Now, scientists have found that RUNX1 inhibition presents a new therapeutic approach in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly worldwide. Their END ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

Understanding the evolution of SARS and COVID-19 type viruses

Abnormal sodium levels in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 predict death or respiratory failure

Microscopic behavior of developing breast cells uncovered

How wildfires may have larger effects on cloud formation than previously thought

One California community shows how to take the waste out of water

Mortality rises among public when health workers get sick in an outbreak, model suggests

Current liver cancer screenings may leave African Americans at greater risk

Health professional societies address critical care clinician burnout

Real-world effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine - research by Clalit Research Institute

Novel pooled testing strategies can significantly better identify COVID-19 infections

Why some coronavirus strains are more infectious than others

Scientists reveal details of antibodies that work against Zika virus

Scientists uncover new details of SARS-CoV-2 interactions with human cells

Antibodies recognize and attack different SARS-CoV-2 spike shapes

How SARS-CoV-2's sugar-coated shield helps activate the virus

A Canadian success story: world-first to treat Fabry disease with gene therapy

Chimpanzees and humans share overlapping territories

Allergy season starts earlier each year due to climate change and pollen transport

Study shows opioid use among US patients with knee osteoarthritis costs 14 billion dollars in societal costs

On the line: Watching nanoparticles get in shape

A-maze-ing pheasants have two ways of navigating

CAR T-cell therapy generates lasting remissions in patients with multiple myeloma

Fantastic voyage: Nanobodies could help CRISPR turn genes on and off

Baby mice have a skill that humans want - and this microchip might help us learn it

New discoveries on the containment of COVID-19 finds travel bans are of limited value

UM scientists achieve breakthrough in culturing corals and sea anemones cells

New shape-changing 4D materials hold promise for morphodynamic tissue engineering

Apollo rock samples capture key moments in the Moon's early history, study find

COVID-19 isolation linked to increased domestic violence, researchers suggest

What to do when a mammogram shows swollen lymph nodes in women just vaccinated for COVID

[Press-News.org] Ghost particle from shredded star reveals cosmic particle accelerator
From a black hole to the South Pole: Scientists identify first neutrino from a tidal disruption event