Two new neutrino sources for IceCube?
Researchers have evaluated data from ten years of the neutrino observatory IceCube. They are looking for cosmic neutrino sources. After identifying the blazar TXS 0506+056 in September 2017, they found another clue.
The IceCube neutrino observatory is one of the largest experiments that astrophysics currently has to offer: It is part of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica and is now sunk in 86 cable strands in the ice (see graphic above). The practically invisible observatory has been in operation since 2010. It should find evidence of neutrinos, those elementary particles that are often described as ghostly. It is true that these elementary particles earn their adjective by hardly or almost never interacting with ordinary matter. However, this sometimes happens, and then flashes of light can be released – the Cherenkov radiation. The photons generated are picked up by the receiving probes fitted with photomultipliers on the cable strands. This gives researchers information about the direction and energy of the respective neutrino. IceCube is sensitive to high-energy neutrinos in the range of 100 gigaelectronvolts (1011 eV) to several petaelectronvolts (PeV, 1015 eV). The low-energy neutrinos from the Sun and from supernova explosions are not accessible to IceCube.