A decade of Physics World breakthroughs: 2013 – the first observations of high-energy cosmic neutrinos - Astronomy and space – Physics World5 Dec 2019, 14:00 UTC
IceCube is a particle detector comprising 5160 digital optical modules suspended along 86 strings, each up to 2.5 km long and embedded under the ice at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The strings are spaced to create a total detector volume of a cubic kilometre. Neutrinos interact with matter only extremely weakly, so the array instead detects the tiny flashes of Cherenkov light produced when the neutrinos collide with hydrogen or oxygen nuclei inside the ice and create secondary particles.
In November 2013, the IceCube Collaboration published details of its observation of 28 extremely high-energy particle events, created by neutrinos with energies of at least 30 TeV. The findings represented the first evidence for high-energy cosmic neutrinos, which arise from outside of our solar system.
“This is the dawn of a new age of astronomy,” principal investigator Francis Halzen commented at the time. Looking back, this development may indeed have heralded the onset of multimessenger astronomy – studying the Universe using not just electromagnetic radiation, but also information from high-energy neutrinos, gravitational waves and cosmic rays.
Tracking the source
Two years later, IceCube confirmed the cosmic origin of high-energy neutrinos with an independent search in the Northern Hemisphere. ...