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The neutrino emission of SN1987A


The appearance of a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud made it possible for the first time to detect the neutrino emission from the explosion of a stellar object. Several groups reported neutrino events, a few hours before the onset of the optical signal1–4. The Mont Blanc collaboration1 has reported a signal that the Kamioka2 detector, supposedly more sensitive, has not seen. The Kamioka2, IMB3 and (marginally) the Baksan4 groups have reported a positive detection that occurred five hours later. Here we show that the assumption that the Mont Blanc (or Baksan) observation is due to the formation of a neutron star leads to excessive energy requirements. If confirmed, these two detections would invalidate any of the presently proposed explanations for the SN1987A event. The Kamioka and IMB observations, on the other hand, match perfectly the standard theory and we suggest that they were the tracers of the neutron star formation. They can then be used to constrain the number of neutrino flavours to be less than four.

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Schaeffer, R., Declais, Y. & Jullian, S. The neutrino emission of SN1987A. Nature 330, 142–144 (1987).

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