A novel telescope that uses the Antarctic ice sheet as its window to the cosmos has produced the first map of the high-energy neutrino sky.
Scientists with the National Science Foundation-funded AMANDA Telescope project work at this South Pole research station. Their neutrino detectors are sunk more than one-and-a-half kilometers beneath the ice.
Photo by: Robert Morse
The first map of the high-energy neutrino sky, produced with data from the AMANDA II Telescope at the South Pole provides a tantalizing glimpse of many potential point sources of the ghostlike cosmic neutrino. The preliminary map, unveiled July 15, 2003 at a meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Sydney, Australia, represents an analysis of one year of data from the telescope and may encompass the first evidence of a cosmic accelerator — bizarre, highly energetic phenomena such as crashing black holes — but proof will require analysis of at least two more years of data.
Photo by: courtesy AMANDA Project
The map, unveiled for astronomers here today (July 15) at a meeting of the International Astronomical Union, provides astronomers with their first tantalizing glimpse of very high-energy neutrinos, ghostly particles that are believed to emanate from some of the most violent events in the universe - crashing black holes, gamma ray bursts, and the violent cores of distant galaxies.
"This is the first data with a neutrino telescope with realistic discovery potential," says Francis Halzen, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of physics, of the map compiled using AMANDA II, a one-of-a-kind telescope built with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and composed of arrays of light-gathering detectors buried in ice 1.5 kilometers beneath the South Pole. "To date, this is the most sensitive way ever to look at the high-energy neutrino sky," he says.
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