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The Hunt for Neutrinos

Amanda video
Watch this video and see how AMANDA works from the inside (narration in German - English transcript).  

Neutrinos 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 explosions—the cataclysmic death of massive stars—when 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.

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