Observation of high-energy neutrinos using Čerenkov detectors embedded deep in Antarctic ice

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Neutrinos are elementary particles that carry no electric charge and have little mass. As they interact only weakly with other particles, they can penetrate enormous amounts of matter, and therefore have the potential to directly convey astrophysical information from the edge of the Universe and from deep inside the most cataclysmic high-energy regions1. The neutrino's great penetrating power, however, also makes this particle difficult to detect. Underground detectors have observed low-energy neutrinos from the Sun and a nearby supernova2, as well as neutrinos generated in the Earth's atmosphere. But the very low fluxes of high-energy neutrinos from cosmic sources can be observed only by much larger, expandable detectors in, for example, deep water3,4 or ice5. Here we report the detection of upwardly propagating atmospheric neutrinos by the ice-based Antarctic muon and neutrino detector array (AMANDA). These results establish a technology with which to build a kilometre-scale neutrino observatory necessary for astrophysical observations1.

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Figure 1: The AMANDA-B10 detector and a schematic diagram of an optical module.
Figure 2: Experimental data confront expectations.
Figure 3: Reconstructed zenith angle distribution.
Figure 4: Distribution in declination and right ascension of the upwardly propagating events on the sky.


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This research was supported by the following agencies: US National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs; US National Science Foundation, Physics Division; University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; US Department of Energy; Swedish Natural Science Research Council; Swedish Polar Research Secretariat; Knut and Allice Wallenberg Foundation, Sweden; German Ministry for Education and Research; US National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (supported by the Office of Energy Research of the US Department of Energy); UC-Irvine AENEAS Supercomputer Facility; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). D.F.C. acknowledges the support of the NSF CAREER programme and C.P.d.l.H. acknowledges support from the European Union 4th Framework of Training and Mobility of Researchers.

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Correspondence to F. Halzen.

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