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Antarctic neutrino detector completed

Nature News
4 January 2011

Last month, researchers lowered the final detector of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory into a 2.5-kilometer-deep hole in the antarctic ice.

After photons, neutrinos are the most common particle in the universe -- trillions stream through your body every second. They are created in the nuclear-reactor centres of stars such as the Sun and by a variety of other objects in space. And because they are electrically neutral, unaffected by magnetic fields that permeate space, their straight-line trajectories point back to their sources.

If high-energy neutrinos turn up in IceCube's data as expected, they will provide astronomers with information they could not get from photons, says Eli Waxman, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. One mystery it could crack is the source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs), a poorly understood class of particles that carry billions of times the energy achievable in today's most powerful particle accelerators.

Full story from Nature News