In our universe there are particle accelerators 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, but scientists don’t know what or where these cosmic accelerators are. New results reported from “IceCube,” the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way.
New results from IceCube, the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way to locating and identifying cosmic accelerators in our galaxy that are 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Some rare cosmic rays pack an astonishing wallop, with energies prodigiously greater than particles in human-made accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider. Their sources are unknown, but gamma-ray bursts are a favored candidate. If so, they should also produce ultra-high-energy neutrinos. Scientists searching for these with IceCube, the giant neutrino telescope at the South Pole to which Berkeley Lab has made key contributions, have found exactly zero. The mystery deepens.
ARIANNA, a proposed array of detectors for capturing the most energetic cosmic rays, is being tested in Antarctica with a prototype station built last December on the Ross Ice Shelf by a Berkeley Lab team. By detecting neutrino-generated signals bounced off the interface of water and ice beneath the shelf, scientists hope to pinpoint the still unidentified sources of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays.