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Tracing a Neutrino to Its Source: The Discovery in Pictures

Blazar Blasting Neutrinos


A blazar accelerates protons (the yellow p) to the energy levels of cosmic rays, initiating a complex quantum cascade that also releases gamma rays (magenta) and neutrinos (blue), which follow straight paths through space. The coupled detection of these two particles enabled astronomers to identify the blazar as a source of cosmic rays.

Fermi Gamma-ray Visualization

NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collab., Matt Russo and Andrew Santaguida/SYSTEM Sounds

Fermi-detected gamma rays from the blazar TXS 0506+056 are shown as circles in this visualization. The circles’ size and color—from white (low) to magenta (high)— indicate the energy of each ray.

Multimessenger Astronomy

IceCube Collaboration

Multimessenger astronomy involves synthesizing information from multiple sources. Astronomers can currently gather data from these four messengers. Here, gamma rays stand in for the entire electromagnetic spectrum, which spans radio waves, through optical light, to gamma rays.

Multimessenger emission art

Kanoko Horio

This artist's image reveals the "multimessenger" emission. As cosmic rays are accelerated by a supermassive black hole, the high-energy rays escaping are trapped in the environment around it. The high-energy neutrinos and gamma-rays are produced in the magnetized environment during their confinement and intergalactic space as they move through it. The three particles eventually reach Earth, where they can provide a unified picture.

Members of the IceCube Collaboration

Robert Schwarz, NSF

Members of the IceCube Collaboration before the deployment of the last DOM, installed on December 18, 2010.

Aurora Australis over South Pole

Sven Lidstrom/NSF

The aurora australis shines above NSF's IceCube Neutrino Observatory at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

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