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Beyond Earthly Skies

Very High Energy Neutrinos from the Galactic Centre

13 Jul 2014, 22:00 UTC
Very High Energy Neutrinos from the Galactic Centre
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A supermassive black hole (SMBH) with an estimated ~4 million times the Sun’s mass sits in the galactic centre of the Milky Way, in a particular region of space called Sagittarius A*, pronounced “Sagittarius A-Star”. In addition, the galactic centre also contains a high concentration of astrophysical oddballs. Rare elsewhere but not uncommon in the galactic centre, these objects include massive stars, intensely magnetised neutron stars and even intermediate mass black holes (IMBHs). Due to its unique environment, the galactic centre is a source of frequent highly energetic astrophysical events.Figure 1: Schematic of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole.In a recent paper by Peterson et al. (2014), the authors investigate whether a subset of very high energy (VHE) neutrinos observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory may have originated from Sagittarius A*. Neutrinos are ghostly subatomic particles that pass through normal matter virtually unimpeded. To be detectable, a neutrino has to interact with normal matter. However, the probability of this happening is vanishingly small. As a result, a neutrino detector needs to be enormously large to detect a significant number of neutrinos. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is the world’s largest neutrino detector. It detects high energy neutrinos using a ...

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