Researchers, running the IceCube Neutrino Observatory buried deep in the Antarctic ice, have collected more evidence to confirm the existence of the ‘high-energy astronomical messengers,’ neutrinos.
IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a frozen cubic-kilometer sized detector, record and classify billions of subatomic particles that zip through it each year, looking for strong evidence to confirm the existence of neutrinos, some of weirdest of all known subatomic particles.
These particles are important, astronomers say, because they can transport ‘messages’ from distant galaxies, millions of light years away, homes to some extreme and colossal cosmic events like black holes and supernovae or exploding stars. Understanding this particles will expand our current understanding of the universe.
Because neutrinos have almost no mass and no electric charge, they can be very hard to detect and are only observed indirectly when they collide with other particles to create muons — that’s what the deeply-buried detectors below Antarctica have seen.
After analysing billions of particles passing through IceCube’ detectors between 2010 and 2012, researchers were able to record 21 high-energy muons.
They are an unequivocal signal of high-energy cosmic neutrinos traversing space, unimpeded by planets, stars or even entire galaxies finally colliding with atoms here on Earth, they say.
Looking for muon neutrinos reaching the detector through the Earth is the way IceCube was supposed to do neutrino astronomy and it has delivered,
explains Francis Halzen.
This is as close to independent confirmation as one can get with a unique instrument.
The finding appears in a papper published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The study solidifies the existence of the Neutrinos.
Cosmic neutrinos are the key to yet unexplored parts of our universe and might be able to finally reveal the origins of the highest energy cosmic rays, including the rare ‘Oh-My-God’ particles,
says Olga Botner.
The discovery of astrophysical neutrinos hints at the dawn of a new era in astronomy.