Episode 13: Neutrino Messenger from a Distant Blazar

In September 2017, two kilometres deep beneath the South Pole, a tiny but very speedy neutrino collided with an atom in the ice and created a flash of light. The flash was picked up by a few of the more than 5,000 photodetectors that comprise the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, and immediately the banks of computers at the surface sent out an alarm to astronomers across the globe: we’ve found one!

Astronomers pointed their telescopes back along the neutrino’s path, and searched for a source. Eventually they found one: an exotic entity known as a blazar, a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy 3.7 billion light years away, spewing out an intense beam of high-energy particles that happens to be pointing right at us.

A single neutrino, heralding an exciting new era of multi-messenger astronomy.


Syzygy is produced by Chris Stewart and co-hosted by Dr Emily Brunsden from the Department of Physics at the University of York.

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Some of the things we talk about in this episode:

Paper 2: :  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/147