IceCube researchers come up empty on first neutrino test

Apr 15, 2011 by Bob Yirka report
IceCube: Sketchup Array and IC79 Events

(PhysOrg.com) -- Physicist Nathan Whitehorn and a team of researchers with the IceCube collaboration have failed to come up with evidence to prove that neutrinos come from, or are caused by, gamma ray bursts, (cosmic explosions) after a year of study.

Neutrinos are neutral particles that travel through space and pass through any object (such as the Earth) in their path. They are able to do so because they have an avoidance property which for the most part keeps them from running into the that make up matter.

The station was built near the South Pole specifically to capture evidence of the existence of high intensity after they’ve passed through the . Many scientists have wondered if they are the result of gamma ray bursts, as some theories predict, but have until now, been unable to test those theories. The IceCube was built to house 5,160 sensitive photon detectors that are able to capture the minute traces of blue light that appear when a neutrino does actually crash head-on into an atom (a very rare occurrence) spraying surrounding ice or water with atomic particles. The idea has been that if such a station were to be built that could capture enough of these collisions before, during and after a , then it would be possible to see if there was a spike, which would lend credence to the theory that the neutrinos do in fact come from such bursts.

Unfortunately, at least so far, things have not worked out that way. During the period of April 5, 2008, through May 20, 2009, nearly 117 gamma ray bursts were detected, but not once did the researchers see any sort of spike, which has led Whitehorn to concede that the amount of neutrino’s that come from gamma rays, if they do at all, is likely smaller than has been theorized.

Granted, the statistics published in Whitethorn’s paper in Physical Review Letters, come from a time period where the station was still being built and thus didn’t have enough sensors to gather as much evidence as needed, but the worry is if after further research (at least two more years), there is still no conclusive evidence, researchers such as Whitehorn, will be left with little more than some very serious head-scratching questions for which they, nor anyone else, will likely have any answers.

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More information: Limits on Neutrino Emission from Gamma-Ray Bursts with the 40 String IceCube Detector, Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 141101 (2011) DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.141101

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User comments : 7

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beelize54
1 / 5 (6) Apr 15, 2011
Neutrinos which are behaving like weak tachyons cannot be correlated with distant gamma ray bursts, which are moving with highly subluminal speed.
marraco
4.7 / 5 (7) Apr 15, 2011
When an accepted theorie fails, is even more interesting.
jonnyboy
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 15, 2011
Seems like the best way to spend our research dollars. Let's spend more for a bigger pool and more lights.........if only we could figure out a way to drag global warming into this project.....hmmmmmmmmmm.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2011
Neutrinos which are behaving like weak tachyons cannot be correlated with distant gamma ray bursts, which are moving with highly subluminal speed.
You're saying that gamma radiation travels subluminally? Not in *this* universe....
(Perhaps you meant the neutrinos? But some of them, at least, are capable of speeds rather close to c.)
beelize54
1 / 5 (4) Apr 15, 2011
Gamma rays are moving slower, than the photons of visible light, being dispersed more with CMBR photons. It's evident especially at the case of close gamma ray bursts, whereas at the case of these more distant ones the gamma ray photons are doing another savvy trick - they trap the faster photons into itself and the visible light photons are revolving the heavier photons like miniature planetary system. The observers are fooled, after then - because they will see all photons arriving at the single moment.
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2011
Beta decay, dark energy and dark matter are the best sources of neutrinos. They add fiber to space fabric.

@Beelize54:
Weak tacyons? What are weak tachyons? Weak tachyons would not necessarily be subluminal, they could fall in the range as some other Standard Model particles and beyond.
YouAreRight
5 / 5 (1) Apr 18, 2011
Physicist Nathan Whitehorn and a team of researchers with the IceCube collaboration have failed to come up with evidence to prove that neutrinos come from, or are caused by, gamma ray bursts, (cosmic explosions) after a year of study.


Where's the positivity?!

How about

Physicist Nathan Whitehorn and a team of researchers with the IceCube collaboration have suceeded in proving that neutrinos do not come from, or are not are caused by, gamma ray bursts, (cosmic explosions) after a year of study.

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