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A hungry black hole first discovered by ZTF is the likely source of a rare neutrino

Feb 22, 2021 | Press Release

When a star gets too close to a supermassive black hole, the gravitational forces tear it apart with some of the star's material thrown back in space to form a disk around the black hole. One such event, called a Tidal Disruption Event (TDE), was discovered by ZTF in April 2019 and is believed to be the source of a high-energy neutrino caught by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Image credit: DESY, Science Communications Lab

Neutrinos are abundant subatomic particles that are notoriously hard to detect. It's even harder to pinpoint their source and study their origin. Using ZTF as part of a program specifically designed to follow up neutrino detections, astronomers led by a team at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) have linked a neutrino caught by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to a tidal disruption event, dubbed AT2019DSG.

"Chasing high energy neutrinos and seeing light from various acts by supermassive black holes is critical to progress in multi-messenger astrophysics. First, it was a blazar and now it is a tidal disruption event. The future is promising," says Mansi Kasliwal, an assistant professor of Astronomy at Caltech and co-PI for ZTF Phase 2.

Read the full NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center official news feature.