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If we understand that neutrinos are produced alongside cosmic rays, then that means they must have the same source of origin as the cosmic rays themselves. “While the cosmic rays that we detect do not point back to their sources—because their electric charge and their path are distorted by magnetic fields—the neutrinos point back to the site where they were created,” says Halzen. “The neutrinos allowed us to pinpoint this source along with some twenty other telescopes.”
So that was the first piece of evidence the team needed. Once they knew TXS 0506+056 was the source of the September 22 neutrino detection, the researchers looked back at about 10 years of archival data, finding high-energy neutrino bursts coinciding with more than a dozen other flares emanating from that blazar in just a short span in 2014 and 2015 alone. This was the second piece of evidence. “This clinched everything,” says Halzen.
Course - Reason - Findings - Blazars - Candidate
There is, of course, reason to be cautious about the findings. Blazars have long been a candidate source for emitting neutrinos, but previous studies trying to tie neutrinos to blazars fell short. It’s not totally clear why TXS 0506+056—which isn’t even the brightest known gamma-ray blazar—fit the bill when others could not. Blazars can’t yet be labeled wholesale as neutrino factories.
“I don't think we're in a position either to say ‘it's all blazars,’” says University of Maryland physicist Erik Blaufuss, another coauthor of the papers. “I think it’s hard to draw too strong of conclusions...
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