Director General of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) Rolf Heuer gestures during an interview in Meyrin, near Geneva February 23, 2012. The CERN lab near Geneva appeared to contradict Albert Einstein's 1905 Special Theory of Relativity last year when they reported that sub-atomic particles called neutrinos could travel fractionally faster than light. Reuters/Denis Balibouse

According to a new study, astronomers have found the possible source of the mysterious extragalactic neutrinos. It is highly possible that these subatomic particles started their journey from outer space about 10 billion years ago. They were hurled at our planet after a massive explosion occurred in a faraway location in outer space.

The reason why this study is of utmost importance to scientists is that neutrinos are like ghost particles, and are the most mysterious of subatomic particles as they hardly interact with matter. Neutrinos do not have mass and remain invisible. Moreover, they are unbelievably fast. Every second, billions of neutrinos flow through peoples’ bodies, but nobody has a clue about them.

University of Würzburg’s lead researcher Matthias Kadler has compared the new study to a crime investigation scene where “the case involves an explosion, a suspect, and various pieces of circumstantial evidence.” The scientists found an answer to the source of the ghost particle in a blazar (huge explosion in space).

One such blazar occurred 10 billion years ago in a galaxy called PKS B1424-418. The explosion was detected only between 2011 and 2013, simply because of the magnanimous distance from earth. A blazar is a very energetic event in the known Universe where a galaxy's material falls towards the super-massive black hole at its centre. Some of these materials get blasted and jet directly towards earth.

Only a little over three years ago, scientists working in Antarctica revealed that they had detected neutrinos coming from outside our galaxy. Researchers set up the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole to detect and measure neutrinos’ energy. In 2013, IceCube scientists said that they had detected two neutrinos coming from outside our galaxy and unimaginably energetic.

The scientists named these neutrinos Ernie and Bert. They were the first evidence of extragalactic neutrinos. Over the coming months, a dozen more neutrinos were detected. In 2012, “Big Bird” was detected. It was then the most energetic neutrino ever detected. Its energy exceeded 2 quadrillion electron volts.

However, the study, published in the journal Nature Physics, explained that there is only a five percent chance that the blazar in galaxy called PKS B1424-418 and “Big Bird” hit earth at the same time and weren’t linked.

“Taking into account all of the observations, the blazar seems to have had means, motive and opportunity to fire off the Big Bird neutrino, which makes it our prime suspect,” said Kadler in the press release by University of Würzburg.

It was a moment of awe and wonder for the scientists when they found out “that the most dramatic outburst” in the blazar occurred at the right time and in the right place.