First Evidence For Atmospheric Neutrino-Induced Cascades with the IceCube Detector
- Author(s): D'Agostino, Michelangelo
- Advisor(s): Price, Buford
- et al.
IceCube is an all-flavor, cubic kilometer neutrino telescope currently under construction
in the deep glacial ice at the South Pole. Its embedded optical sensors detect Cherenkov
light from charged particles produced in neutrino interactions in the ice. For several years
IceCube has been detecting muon tracks from charged-current muon neutrino interactions.
However, IceCube has yet to observe the electromagnetic or hadronic particle showers or
"cascades" initiated by charged-current or neutral-current neutrino interactions. The first
detection of such an event signature is expected to come from the known flux of atmospheric
electron and muon neutrinos.
A search for atmospheric neutrino-induced cascades was performed using 275.46
days of data from IceCube's 22-string configuration. Reconstruction and background rejection
techniques were developed to reach, for the first time, a signal-to-background ratio
~1. Above a reconstructed energy of 5 TeV, 12 candidate events were observed in the full
dataset. The signal expectation from the canonical Bartol atmospheric neutrino flux model
is 5.63 +- 2.25 events, while the expectation from the atmospheric neutrino flux as measured
by IceCube's predecessor array AMANDA is 7.48 +- 1.50 events. Quoted errors include the
uncertainty on the flux only.
While a conclusive detection can not yet be claimed because of a lack of background
Monte Carlo statistics, the evidence that we are at the level of background suppression
needed to see atmospheric neutrino-induced cascades is strong. In addition, one extremely
interesting candidate event of energy 133 TeV survives all cuts and shows an intriguing
double pulse structure in its waveforms that may signal the "double bang" of a tau neutrino