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IceCube Spots High-Energy Neutrinos from Outside Our Solar System

Dr Spencer Klein of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is a colleague of the IceCube Collaboration and co-author of the paper writing the discovery in the journal Science, said “The IceCube Collaboration has announced the observation of 28 extremely high energy events that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from outside our Solar System. These 28 events include two of the highest energy neutrinos ever reported, which have been named Bert and Ernie.” Approximately massless subatomic particles called neutrinos can transmit info about the workings of the highest-energy and utmost distant occurrences in the Cosmos. Billions of neutrinos pass over every square centimeter of the Earth every second, but the huge majority originates any in the Sun or in the Earth’s atmosphere. Far rarer are neutrinos from the external ranges of our Galaxy or beyond, which have long been speculated to offer perceptions into the dominant cosmic objects where high-energy cosmic rays might originate: supernovas, pulsars, black holes, energetic galactic cores and other great extragalactic phenomena. Neutrino scientists have been observing the sky for decades to study more about these mysterious particles.

Up till now, they have detected low-energy neutrinos that originate in Earth’s atmosphere, neutrinos from beyond the Solar System, and neutrinos from one uncommon close supernova, identified as 1987A.

The 28 neutrinos detected by IceCube, a particle sensor prepared from one cubic kilometer of ice in Antarctica, are different. They are at a considerably higher energy level than those created by the earlier measured sources. They were originating in data composed from May 2010 to May 2012. In examining additional fresh data, the IceCube Collaboration discovered additional occurrence (called Big Bird) that was nearly double the energy of Bert and Ernie. Co-author Dr Lisa Gerhardt of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center said “Like most scientific discoveries, finding Big Bird was a combination of hard work and luck and it took place on the afternoon of my last day of work on IceCube. At first I was in disbelief, thinking there must be some other explanation for this enormous event. However, one-by-one alternate explanations were disproved until finally we knew that we had found the most energetic event in IceCube yet, most likely from an astrophysical neutrino. I was able to leave IceCube with a bang!”

Regarding the character of the mysterious cosmic accelerators, the physicists said these initial outcomes from IceCube favor active galactic nuclei, the huge particle jets emitted by a black hole afterward it swallows a star.

Dr Klein said “The 28 events being reported are diffuse and do not point back to a source, but the big picture tends to suggest active galactic nuclei as the leading contender with the second leading contender being something we haven’t even thought of yet,”

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