IceCube is a particle detector at the South Pole that records the interactions of a nearly massless subatomic particle called the neutrino. IceCube searches for neutrinos from the most violent astrophysical sources: events like exploding stars, gamma-ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars. The IceCube telescope is a powerful tool to search for dark matter and could reveal the physical processes associated with the enigmatic origin of the highest energy particles in nature. In addition, exploring the background of neutrinos produced in the atmosphere, IceCube studies the neutrinos themselves; their energies far exceed those produced by accelerator beams. IceCube is the world’s largest neutrino detector, encompassing a cubic kilometer of ice.
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A trio of high-energy neutrinos have been detected at the IceCube particle detector in the Antarctica. All three arrived within 100 seconds of each other, indicating they came from the same origin – but, as of yet, scientists do now know their source.
The three muon neutrino candidates were detected on 17 February 2016, at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the South Pole. The first detector of its kind, IceCube is designed to observe cosmic rays from deep within the ice. It looks for near-massless subatomic particles called neutrinos, which provide information about violent cosmic events, as well as helping answer questions about dark matter.
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In a study published on the pre-print server arxiv.org, which has been submitted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, scientists at the observatory discuss the neutrino trio and their potential source.
"On February 17 2016, the IceCube real-time neutrino search identified, for the first time, three muon neutrino candidates arriving within 100 seconds of each other which are consistent with a point source origin," they wrote. "Such a triplet is expected only once every 13.7 years as a random coincidence of background events."
Following their detection, the team used IceCube to make follow up observations in near real-time in a bid to search for the source. They said that while the triplet could have been produced by atmospheric conditions, it could have come from an "extremely energetic source", the IceCube Neutrino Observatory said in a statement. "Three optical observatories searched for emission at the time of the alert and also evaluated data within 30 days before the neutrino triplet."
Antarctica's IceCube detects trio of neutrinos coming from unknown source:
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