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Neutrinos on Ice: Astronomers' Long Hunt for Source of Extragalactic "Ghost Particles" Pays Off

12 Jul 2018, 15:00 UTC
Neutrinos on Ice: Astronomers' Long Hunt for Source of Extragalactic NASA/Fermi and Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State University

Ever since the 1950s, when physicists first dreamed up the idea of doing astronomy with neutrinos, the holy grail has been to observe the first object outside our solar system that emits these ghostly particles. A handful were collected from a nearby supernova in 1987, but that was a rare event and the instruments that made the detection were hardly telescopes; they could not discern much more than up from down or left from right.

Three papers released today (two in Science and one on the preprint server arXiv) announce the culmination of this 60-year quest. IceCube, a strange telescope made of deep glacial ice at the South Pole, has detected neutrinos from a distant, luminous galaxy.

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