RWTH Involved in a Discovery at the IceCube Observatory in Antarctica




Christopher Wiebusch



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International research team identifies a source of high-energy neutrino radiation


For more than ten years, the IceCube observatory in Antarctica has been detecting traces of extragalactic neutrinos. An international research team led by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and with the participation of RWTH Aachen University has now discovered a source of high-energy neutrino radiation in the active galaxy NGC 1068, also known as Messier 77, while analyzing the data. The research results have now been published in the journal Science. The universe is full of mysteries. One of them is active galaxies with giant black holes at their centers. The IceCube team has now come a big step closer to solving this mystery: With the spiral galaxy NGC 1068, the astrophysicists have tracked down a source of high-energy neutrinos.

Until now, the biggest hurdle in neutrino astronomy has been separating the very weak signal from the strong background noise caused by particle impacts from the Earth's atmosphere. It took the IceCube Neutrino Observatory's many years of measurements and new statistical methods to provide researchers with enough neutrino events for their discovery.

The measurement is based on a data set created by the Chair of Experimental Physics III B at RWTH Aachen University. In addition, Professor Christopher Wiebusch's team has been working for years on methods to improve the directional accuracy, which was a key prerequisite for the result.

NGC 1068 is the most statistically significant source of high-energy neutrinos discovered to date. However, more data are needed to locate and explore fainter and more distant neutrino sources. Plans for a neutrino detector many times larger than IceCube are well advanced. Construction of the second-generation IceCube observatory - IceCube-Gen2 - is expected to begin in a few years.


IceCube Collaboration: Evidence for neutrino emission from the nearby active galaxy NGC1068; published in: Science, November 3, 2022