The event was first observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and then shared with nearly two dozen observatories around the world, such as the Fermi Space Telescope (NASA) and the MAGIC telescope. This network between multiple instruments is shedding light on the unsolved origin of high-energy cosmic rays. A suspect high-energy gamma rays emitter, the blazar TXS 0506+056, was detected in the arrival direction of IC-170922A. This object is an extra-galactic quasar with a supermassive black hole at the center. The photon emissions observed indicate that the source has a priori the power to accelerate very high-energy cosmic rays that can then produce neutrinos via interactions with the radiative and baryonic backgrounds.
“The era of multi-messenger astrophysics is here,” said France Cordova, director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF). “Each messenger — from electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves and neutrinos — gives us a more complete understanding of the Universe, and important new insights into the most powerful objects and events in the sky.”
Congratulations to IceCube and to the great multi-messenger network throughout the world for this brilliant discovery. We are looking forward to observing new events from blazars to bring more clues about the origin of the high-energy neutrinos.
More information about this highlight:
1. NSF Press Conference on Breakthrough in Multi-messenger Astrophysics
2. Outreach article in Le Monde with the interview of Kumiko Kotera (in French)
3. Evidence for High-Energy Extraterrestrial Neutrinos at the IceCube Detector
4. Multimessenger observations of a flaring blazar coincident with high-energy neutrino IceCube-170922A