Confirmed: These Neutrinos Probably Came From Outer Space
What’s the Latest Development?
At Wednesday’s IceCube Particle Astrophysics symposium in Madison, WI, a team of researchers announced the detection of 26 high-energy neutrinos, all of which landed on the cubic kilometer of South Pole ice monitored by the IceCube neutrino observatory between May 2010 and May 2012. Many of them appear to have originated from deep space, which would make them the first of their kind detected since 1987, when a supernova explosion was noticed near the Large Magellanic Cloud.
What’s the Big Idea?
Most branches of observational astronomy work with specific ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as X-ray and infrared. The discovery by the IceCube observatory represents a major breakthrough in the field of neutrino astronomy. Since neutrino beams arrive straight from their source without being affected by magnetic fields, they are useful for examining cosmic objects that are thought to produce them, such as supernovae and active galactic nuclei. Today’s reveal comes on the heels of an earlier announcement in which two high-energy neutrinos nicknamed Bert and Ernie were accidentally discovered, and team leader Francis Halzen expects there will be more to come: A “goldmine” of IceCube data collected from after May 2012 is still awaiting analysis.
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