Friday, 13 July 2018 back

Neutrino observation points to one source of high-energy cosmic rays

Observations made by researchers using a National Science Foundation (NSF) detector at the South Pole and verified by ground- and space-based telescopes have produced the first evidence of one source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos.

These ghostly subatomic particles can travel unhindered for billions of light-years, journeying to Earth from some of the most extreme environments in the universe.

Data gathered by NSF's IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica point to an answer to a more than century-old riddle about the origins of high-energy cosmic rays.

That the detection was confirmed by other instruments, including an orbiting telescope operated by NASA, is a demonstration of the value of the emerging field of "multi-messenger astronomy," which describes the ability to marshal instruments globally to make and verify discoveries by combining data from messenger signals that reveal information about the universe.

"The era of multi-messenger astrophysics is here," said NSF Director France Córdova. "Each messenger - from electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves and now neutrinos - gives us a more complete understanding of the universe, and important new insights into the most powerful objects and events in the sky. Such breakthroughs are only possible through a long-term commitment to fundamental research and investment in superb research facilities."

NSF's IceCube was built by NSF specifically to identify and track high-energy neutrinos. It sighted the first neutrinos from beyond our galaxy in 2013 and since has made numerous fundamental measurements in neutrino astronomy, which helps scientists make sense of matter in its most elementary forms.

The NSF Office of Polar Programs, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), and the Physics Division in its Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate jointly oversee the operations of NSF's IceCube, the world's largest neutrino detector.

L'era dell'astronomia multimessaggero è qui. Per la prima volta i ricercatori sono riusciti a risalire alla sorgente di un neutrino cosmico grazie all’associazione con una sorgente di fotoni gamma. L'osservazione è decisiva anche per comprendere l'origine dei raggi cosmici

L'Italia ha contribuito al risultato con i ricercatori dell’Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare INFN, dell’Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica INAF e dell’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana ASI.

Il GSSI- Gran Sasso Science Institute ha seguito in diretta la conferenza stampa organizzata giovedì 12 luglio dalla National Science Foundation (NSF).