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Could quantum gravity slow down neutrinos?


In addition to its implications for astrophysics, the hunt for neutrinos originating from gamma-ray bursts could also be significant in quantum-gravity research, as they are excellent probes of the microscopic fabric of spacetime. Some previous studies based on neutrinos observed by the IceCube observatory found intriguing preliminary evidence that some of them might be gamma-ray burst neutrinos whose travel times are affected by quantum properties of spacetime that would slow down some of the neutrinos while speeding up others. The IceCube collaboration recently significantly revised the estimates of the direction of observation of their neutrinos, and we here investigate how the corrected directional information affects the results of the previous quantum-spacetime-inspired analyses. We find that there is now little evidence for neutrinos being sped up by quantum spacetime properties, whereas the evidence for neutrinos being slowed down by quantum spacetime is even stronger than previously determined. Our most conservative estimates find a false-alarm probability of less than 1% for these ‘slow neutrinos’, providing motivation for future studies on larger data samples.

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Fig. 1: Late GRB-neutrino candidates.
Fig. 2: GRB-neutrino candidates above 60 TeV.

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Data availability

For the GRBs we used the catalogue that can be found at For neutrinos we used the data reported in ref. 20.


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G.A.-C. and G.G. are grateful for financial support from the Programme STAR Plus, funded by Federico II University and Compagnia di San Paolo, from FQXi grant no. 2018-190483 and from the MIUR under PRIN 2017 grant no. 20179ZF5KS. The work of G.R. on this project was supported by the National Science Centre under grant no. 2019/33/B/ST2/00050. The work of G.D. on this project was supported by the Research Council of Norway under project no. 301718. This work also falls within the scopes of the EU COST action CA18108 ‘Quantum gravity phenomenology in the multi-messenger era’.

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G.A.-C. proposed the project. All authors contributed to all aspects of the analysis, with G.A.-C., G.G. and G.R. leading the work on pure theory, G.A.-C., G.D. and G.G. leading the work on statistical methods and M.G.D.L., G.G. and G.R. leading the numerical work.

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Correspondence to Giovanni Amelino-Camelia.

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Amelino-Camelia, G., Di Luca, M.G., Gubitosi, G. et al. Could quantum gravity slow down neutrinos?. Nat Astron 7, 996–1001 (2023).

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