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IceCube finds evidence for high energy astrophysical neutrinos  
In a recent issue of Science, the IceCube collabortion reports the observation of 28 high energy events, the first solid evidence (more than 4 standard deviation) for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic accelerators. The events cannot be explained by other neutrino fluxes, such as those from atmospheric neutrinos, nor by other high-energy events, such as muons produced by the interaction of cosmic rays in the atmosphere. The result is based on 2 year's of data, from May 2010 to May 2012.

Billions of neutrinos pass through every square centimeter of the Earth every second, but they rarely interact with matter. The vast majority originate either in the Sun or in the Earth's atmosphere. Far rarer are neutrinos from the outer reaches of our galaxy or beyond, which have long been theorized to provide insights into the powerful cosmic objects where high-energy cosmic rays may originate: supernovas, black holes, pulsars, active galactic nuclei and other extreme extragalactic phenomena.

IceCube was designed to accomplish two major scientific goals: measure the flux, or rate, of high-energy neutrinos and try to identify some of their sources. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the observatory is comprised of 5,160 digital optical modules suspended along 86 strings embedded in a cubic kilometer of ice beneath the South Pole. The detectors are sensitive to the Cherenkov light, produced by particles created when the neutrinos interact with the polar ice. The principle of detecting neutrinos in ice has been established nearly 25 years ago, and IceCube became operational after a 7-year construction in 2010.

Professor Joanna Kiryluk is a co-leader of the IceCube cascade/tau working group. Her Stony Brook research group includes Mariola Lesiak-Bzdak, (postdoctoral research fellow), Hans Niederhausen and Yiqian Xu (graduate students), Anna Steuer (Fulbright fellow) and Christopher Urban (undergraduate student). The IceCube collaboration includes 250 physicists and engineers from the U.S., Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, U.K. and Korea. The lead institution is the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

See more details in the Stony Brook press release and in a New York Times article.

2013-11-21

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