are products of nuclear reactions, the collisions of subatomic
protons and neutrons that fuel the sun and ignite violent
deep-space phenomena like supernovas and black holes. The
neutrinos ejected from the sun carry much less energy than
those generated by the furious explosions of dying stars and
the voracious appetite of black holes. It's these high-energy
neutrinos that AMANDA researchers covet most.
While light and particulate matter produced by such events
interact with gas and dust clouds on their astral voyages,
neutrinos pass through space unmolested. They even escape
the magnetic fields that bend the path of charged particles,
hopelessly obscuring their point of origin. Ejected from celestial
events millions of light-years away, these cosmic messengers
bring news of far-flung galactic incidents, offering clues
to the evolution and structure of the universe itself.
For example, scientists confirmed that neutrinos came from
supernova explosionsthe cataclysmic death of massive
starswhen a hail of neutrinos showed up hours before
a supernova was observed in a nearby galaxy. Escaping the
mayhem of the drama unscathed, neutrinos testified to the
circumstances of the giant star's death.
AMANDA researchers are also on the lookout for evidence of
"neutralinos," the primary suspect for the baffling "missing
mass" in the universe known as dark matter. Neutralinos, like
neutrinos, rarely interact with matter, but they get trapped
in gravity centers, like the Earth's core. They're more likely
to collide in these high concentrations, and when they do,
theorists predict, they'll produce high-energy neutrinos.