Research Article

Neutrino emission from the direction of the blazar TXS 0506+056 prior to the IceCube-170922A alert

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Science  13 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6398, pp. 147-151
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat2890

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Neutrino emission from a flaring blazar

Neutrinos interact only very weakly with matter, but giant detectors have succeeded in detecting small numbers of astrophysical neutrinos. Aside from a diffuse background, only two individual sources have been identified: the Sun and a nearby supernova in 1987. A multiteam collaboration detected a high-energy neutrino event whose arrival direction was consistent with a known blazar—a type of quasar with a relativistic jet oriented directly along our line of sight. The blazar, TXS 0506+056, was found to be undergoing a gamma-ray flare, prompting an extensive multiwavelength campaign. Motivated by this discovery, the IceCube collaboration examined lower-energy neutrinos detected over the previous several years, finding an excess emission at the location of the blazar. Thus, blazars are a source of astrophysical neutrinos.

Science, this issue p. 147, p. eaat1378


A high-energy neutrino event detected by IceCube on 22 September 2017 was coincident in direction and time with a gamma-ray flare from the blazar TXS 0506+056. Prompted by this association, we investigated 9.5 years of IceCube neutrino observations to search for excess emission at the position of the blazar. We found an excess of high-energy neutrino events, with respect to atmospheric backgrounds, at that position between September 2014 and March 2015. Allowing for time-variable flux, this constitutes 3.5σ evidence for neutrino emission from the direction of TXS 0506+056, independent of and prior to the 2017 flaring episode. This suggests that blazars are identifiable sources of the high-energy astrophysical neutrino flux.

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