IceCube Blazar Neutrino!

The above graphic isn't quite right, as the neutrinos that IceCube detects have traveled through the Earth from the northern hemisphere. And then there's the matter of scale, as the source of this high-energy neutrino was a blazar--a giant galaxy with a massive spinning black hole at its core--and this one was near the left shoulder of the Orion constellation and about 4 billion light years from Earth, rather than in Earth orbit as pictured. But, that graphic does reflect what got detected.

The neutrino was detected on 22 September 2017, and within seconds IceCube sent out an alert to other institutions so that they could search for its exact origin. And almost immediately the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope identified the source.

Considering IceCube as a "neutrino telescope," it has an angular resolution roughly equivalent to the diameter of the Moon as viewed from Earth, so further resolution help was needed from other observatories. The actual source discovery was only 0.1 away from the track suggested by IceCube.

the IceCube laboratory in 2013As I'm not a cosmologist, I'll defer to the general and scientific news coverage. Of great interest is this 12 July New York Times article, which includes the interesting photo at left by 2013 IceCube winterover Felipe Pederos Bustos. Who noted that we should check out the humanoid figure on the roof. Said humanoid is actually the other wo IceCuber Blaise Kuotiong. Also of special note--2013 wo sysadmin Daniel Leussler pointed out the last sentence of that NYT article, which quotes IceCube principal investigator Francis Halzen describing the two winterovers, saying "Ideally they have nothing to do." Having wintered twice when IceCube was in operation (and having continually followed the project) I know that those folks are actually rather busy--if they're not rebooting servers, shoveling snow from the IceCube walkways, troubleshooting sick DOMs etc., they're helping keeping the station going with house mouse, fuel ops, and other stuff.

In addition to the IceCube press release mentioned at the top of this page, the project also issued this more extensive news article which provides more details as well as additional fascinating graphics and links. Other good coverage: from NPR--this story--which is topped by another interesting artist's conceptual graphic; and from AAAS--this news article which should be visible to everyone, as well as THREE papers published in the 13 July issue: "Neutrino emission from the direction of the blazar..."; "Multimessenger observations of a flaring blazar..."; and "Ice reveals a messenger from a blazing galaxy". Anyone can at least view the abstracts of these papers.

Stay tuned for more high energy updates!