Supernova Early Warning System

The SuperNova Early Warning System (SNEWS) is a network of neutrino detectors designed to give early warning to astronomers in the event of a supernova in the Milky Way, our home galaxy, or in a nearby galaxy such as the Large Magellanic Cloud or the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy.

As of October 2018, SNEWS has not issued any supernova alerts. This is unsurprising because supernovae appear to be rare: the most recent known supernova remnant in the Milky Way was around the turn of the 20th century, and the most recent supernova confirmed to have been observed was Kepler's Supernova in 1604.

Powerful bursts of electron neutrinos (νe) with typical energies of the order of 10 MeV and duration of the order of 10 seconds are produced in the core of a red giant star as it collapses on itself via the "neutronization" reaction, i.e. fusion of protons and electrons into neutrons: pe→nνe. It is expected that the neutrinos are emitted well before the light from the supernova peaks, so in principle neutrino detectors could give advance warning to astronomers that a supernova has occurred and may soon be visible. The neutrino pulse from supernova 1987A arrived 3 hours before the associated photons – but SNEWS was not yet active and it was not recognised as a supernova event until after the photons arrived. However, SNEWS is not able to give advance warning of a type Ia supernova, as they are not expected to produce significant numbers of neutrinos. Type Ia supernovae, caused by a runaway nuclear fusion reaction in a white dwarf star, are thought to account for roughly one-third of all supernovae.[1]

There are currently seven neutrino detector members of SNEWS: Borexino, Daya Bay, KamLAND, HALO, IceCube, LVD, and Super-Kamiokande.[2] SNEWS began operation prior to 2004, with three members (Super-Kamiokande, LVD, and SNO). The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory is no longer active as it is being upgraded to its successor program SNO+.

The detectors send reports of a possible supernova to a computer at Brookhaven National Laboratory to identify a supernova. If the SNEWS computer identifies signals from two detectors within 10 seconds, the computer will send a supernova alert to observatories around the world to study the supernova.[3] The SNEWS mailing list is open-subscription, and the general public is allowed to sign up; however, the SNEWS collaboration encourages amateur astronomers to instead use Sky and Telescope magazine's AstroAlert service, which is linked to SNEWS.

See also


  1. ^ Adams, Scott; et, al (2013). "Observing the Next Galactic Supernova". Astrophysical Journal. 778 (2): 164. arXiv:1306.0559. Bibcode:2013ApJ...778..164A. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/778/2/164.
  2. ^ "SNEWS News". Brookhaven National Laboratory. 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
  3. ^ Jayawardhana, Ray (2013). "Physicists Eagerly Await Neutrinos from the Next Nearby Supernova [Excerpt]". Scientific American. 309 (6): 68–73. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1213-68. PMID 24383367.

External links


Borexino is a particle physics experiment to study low energy (sub-MeV) solar neutrinos.

The detector is the world's most radio-pure liquid scintillator calorimeter. It is placed within a stainless steel sphere which holds the signal detectors (photomultiplier tubes or PMTs) and is shielded by a water tank to protect it against external radiation and tag incoming cosmic muons that manage to penetrate the overburden of the mountain above.

The primary aim of the experiment is to make a precise measurement of the individual neutrino fluxes from the Sun and compare them to the Standard solar model predictions. This will allow scientists to test and to further understand the functioning of the Sun (e.g., nuclear fusion processes taking place at the core of the Sun, solar composition, opacities, matter distribution, etc.) and will also help determine properties of neutrino oscillations, including the MSW effect. Specific goals of the experiment are to detect beryllium-7, boron-8, pp, pep and CNO solar neutrinos as well as anti-neutrinos from the Earth and nuclear power plants. The project may also be able to detect neutrinos from supernovae within our galaxy with a special potential to detect the elastic scattering of neutrinos onto protons, due to neutral current interactions. Borexino is a member of the Supernova Early Warning System. Searches for rare processes and potential unknown particles are also underway.

The name Borexino is the Italian diminutive of BOREX (BORon solar neutrino EXperiment), after the original 1 kT-fiducial experimental proposal with a different scintillator (TMB), was discontinued because of a shift in focus in physics goals as well as financial constraints. The experiment is located at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso near the town of L'Aquila, Italy, and is supported by an international collaboration with researchers from Italy, the United States, Germany, France, Poland and Russia. The experiment is funded by multiple national agencies including the INFN (National Institute for Nuclear Physics) and the NSF (National Science Foundation). In May 2017, Borexino reached 10 years of continuous operation since the start of its data-taking period in 2007.

The SOX project was projected study the possible existence of sterile neutrinos or other anomalous effects in neutrino oscillations at short ranges through the use of a neutrino generator based on radioactive cerium-144. This project was cancelled in early 2018 due to unsurmountable technical problems in the fabrication of the antineutrino source.

Helium and Lead Observatory

The Helium And Lead Observatory (HALO) is a neutrino detector at SNOLab for the Supernova Early Warning System (SNEWS). It began engineering operation on May 8, 2012, and joined as an operational part of SNEWS in October 2015.It was designed to be a low-cost, low-maintenance detector with limited capabilities sufficient for the burst of neutrinos generated by a nearby supernova. Its major components are left over from other decommissioned experiments: 76 tons of lead from an earlier cosmic-ray experiment, and 128 three-metre-long helium-3 neutron detectors from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory.

The idea of using lead to detect supernova neutrinos was originally proposed in 1996 by Cliff Hargrove as the "lead astronomical neutrino detector" (LAND), and in 2004, Charles Duba, then a PhD student working on SNO, proposed re-using them for this purpose, prompting the renaming to HALO. Design of the current detector began in 2007.When an electron neutrino collides with a lead nucleus, it causes a nuclear transmutation that ends with a neutron emission. Lead does not absorb neutrons readily since 208Pb it has a "magic number" of both protons and neutrons, so the neutrons pass through to the 3He detectors. If enough neutrons are detected in a short time, an alert is generated.

One limitation of the detector's design is its small size; due to the limited amount of surplus lead available, half of the neutrons generated escape before hitting a neutron detector. To mitigate this, it is surrounded by a layer of water to reflect some of the neutrons back in. Budget permitting, there are plans for a larger detector using 1000 t of lead and the remaining leftover 3He detectors (Due to lead's high density; 1000 t is a cube 4.45 m (14.6 ft) on a side, not an impractical size for underground installation.)

History of supernova observation

The known history of supernova observation goes back to 185 AD, when supernova SN 185 appeared, the oldest appearance of a supernova recorded by humankind. Several additional supernovae within the Milky Way galaxy have been recorded since that time, with SN 1604 being the most recent supernova to be observed in this galaxy.Since the development of the telescope, the field of supernova discovery has expanded to other galaxies. These occurrences provide important information on the distances of galaxies. Successful models of supernova behavior have also been developed, and the role of supernovae in the star formation process is now increasingly understood.

IceCube Neutrino Observatory

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory (or simply IceCube) is a neutrino observatory constructed at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.

Its thousands of sensors are located under the Antarctic ice, distributed over a cubic kilometre.

Similar to its predecessor, the Antarctic Muon And Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA), IceCube consists of spherical optical sensors called Digital Optical Modules (DOMs), each with a photomultiplier tube (PMT) and a single-board data acquisition computer which sends digital data to the counting house on the surface above the array. IceCube was completed on 18 December 2010.DOMs are deployed on strings of 60 modules each at depths between 1,450 to 2,450 meters into holes melted in the ice using a hot water drill. IceCube is designed to look for point sources of neutrinos in the TeV range to explore the highest-energy astrophysical processes.

In November 2013 it was announced that IceCube had detected 28 neutrinos that likely originated outside the Solar System.

Index of physics articles (S)

The index of physics articles is split into multiple pages due to its size.

To navigate by individual letter use the table of contents below.

Kamioka Observatory

The Kamioka Observatory, Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (神岡宇宙素粒子研究施設, Kamioka Uchū Soryūshi Kenkyū Shisetsu, Japanese pronunciation: [ka.mi.o.ka ɯtɕɯː soɾʲɯːɕi̥ keŋkʲɯː ɕi̥setsɯ]) is a neutrino and gravitational waves laboratory located underground in the Mozumi Mine of the Kamioka Mining and Smelting Co. near the Kamioka section of the city of Hida in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. A set of groundbreaking neutrino experiments have taken place at the observatory over the past two decades. All of the experiments have been very large and have contributed substantially to the advancement of particle physics, in particular to the study of neutrino astronomy and neutrino oscillation.

Kepler's Supernova

SN 1604, also known as Kepler's Supernova, Kepler's Nova or Kepler's Star, was a supernova of Type Ia that occurred in the Milky Way, in the constellation Ophiuchus. Appearing in 1604, it is the most recent supernova in our own galaxy to have been unquestionably observed by the naked eye, occurring no farther than 6 kiloparsecs or about 20,000 light-years from Earth.

Large Volume Detector

The Large Volume Detector (LVD) is a particle physics experiment situated in the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy and is operated by the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). It has been in operation since June 1992, and is a member of the Supernova Early Warning System. Among other work, the detector should be able to detect neutrinos from our galaxy and possibly nearby galaxies. The LVD uses 840 scintillator counters around a large tank of hydrocarbons. The detector can detect both charged current and neutral current interactions.In 2012, they published the results of measurements of the speed of CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso. The results were consistent with the speed of light. See measurements of neutrino speed.

Multi-messenger astronomy

Multi-messenger astronomy is astronomy based on the coordinated observation and interpretation of disparate "messenger" signals. Interplanetary probes can visit objects within the Solar System, but beyond that, information must rely on "extrasolar messengers". The four extrasolar messengers are electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves, neutrinos, and cosmic rays. They are created by different astrophysical processes, and thus reveal different information about their sources.

The main multi-messenger sources outside the heliosphere are expected to be compact binary pairs (black holes and neutron stars), supernovae, irregular neutron stars, gamma-ray bursts, active galactic nuclei, and relativistic jets. The table below lists several types of events and expected messengers.

Detection from one messenger and non-detection from a different messenger can also be informative.


The NOνA (NuMI Off-Axis νe Appearance) experiment is a particle physics experiment designed to detect neutrinos in Fermilab's NuMI (Neutrinos at the Main Injector) beam. Intended to be the successor to MINOS, NOνA consists of two detectors, one at Fermilab (the near detector), and one in northern Minnesota (the far detector). Neutrinos from NuMI pass through 810 km of Earth to reach the far detector. NOνA's main goal is to observe the oscillation of muon neutrinos to electron neutrinos. The primary physics goals of NOvA are:

Precise measurement, for neutrinos and antineutrinos, of the mixing angle θ23, especially whether it is larger than, smaller than, or equal to 45°

Precise measurement, for neutrinos and antineutrinos, of the associated mass splitting Δm232

Strong constraints on the CP-violating phase δ

Strong constraints on the neutrino mass hierarchy


A neutrino ( or ) (denoted by the Greek letter ν) is a fermion (an elementary particle with half-integer spin) that interacts only via the weak subatomic force and gravity. The neutrino is so named because it is electrically neutral and because its rest mass is so small (-ino) that it was long thought to be zero. The mass of the neutrino is much smaller than that of the other known elementary particles. The weak force has a very short range, the gravitational interaction is extremely weak, and neutrinos, as leptons, do not participate in the strong interaction. Thus, neutrinos typically pass through normal matter unimpeded and undetected.Weak interactions create neutrinos in one of three leptonic flavors: electron neutrinos (νe), muon neutrinos (νμ), or tau neutrinos (ντ), in association with the corresponding charged lepton. Although neutrinos were long believed to be massless, it is now known that there are three discrete neutrino masses with different tiny values, but they do not correspond uniquely to the three flavors. A neutrino created with a specific flavor has an associated specific quantum superposition of all three mass states. As a result, neutrinos oscillate between different flavors in flight. For example, an electron neutrino produced in a beta decay reaction may interact in a distant detector as a muon or tau neutrino. Although only differences of squares of the three mass values are known as of 2016, cosmological observations imply that the sum of the three masses must be less than one millionth that of the electron.For each neutrino, there also exists a corresponding antiparticle, called an antineutrino, which also has half-integer spin and no electric charge. They are distinguished from the neutrinos by having opposite signs of lepton number and chirality. To conserve total lepton number, in nuclear beta decay, electron neutrinos appear together with only positrons (anti-electrons) or electron-antineutrinos, and electron antineutrinos with electrons or electron neutrinos.Neutrinos are created by various radioactive decays, including in beta decay of atomic nuclei or hadrons, nuclear reactions such as those that take place in the core of a star or artificially in nuclear reactors, nuclear bombs or particle accelerators, during a supernova, in the spin-down of a neutron star, or when accelerated particle beams or cosmic rays strike atoms. The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. In the vicinity of the Earth, about 65 billion (6.5×1010) solar neutrinos per second pass through every square centimeter perpendicular to the direction of the Sun.For study, neutrinos can be created artificially with nuclear reactors and particle accelerators. There is intense research activity involving neutrinos, with goals that include the determination of the three neutrino mass values, the measurement of the degree of CP violation in the leptonic sector (leading to leptogenesis); and searches for evidence of physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, such as neutrinoless double beta decay, which would be evidence for violation of lepton number conservation. Neutrinos can also be used for tomography of the interior of the earth.

Outline of astronomy

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to astronomy:

Astronomy – studies the universe beyond Earth, including its formation and development, and the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects (such as galaxies, planets, etc.) and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth (such as the cosmic background radiation).

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) was a neutrino observatory located 2100 m underground in Vale's Creighton Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. The detector was designed to detect solar neutrinos through their interactions with a large tank of heavy water.

The detector was turned on in May 1999, and was turned off on 28 November 2006. The SNO collaboration was active for several years after that analyzing the data taken.

The director of the experiment, Art McDonald, was co-awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015 for the experiment's contribution to the discovery of neutrino oscillation.The underground laboratory has been enlarged into a permanent facility and now operates multiple experiments as SNOLAB. The SNO equipment itself is currently being refurbished for use in the SNO+ experiment.


A supernova ( plural: supernovae or supernovas, abbreviations: SN and SNe) is a transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of the life of a massive star, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final, titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a "new" bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months or years.

Supernovae are more energetic than novae. In Latin, nova means "new", referring astronomically to what appears to be a temporary new bright star. Adding the prefix "super-" distinguishes supernovae from ordinary novae, which are far less luminous. The word supernova was coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1931.

Only three Milky Way, naked-eye supernova events have been observed during the last thousand years, though many have been observed in other galaxies. The most recent directly observed supernova in the Milky Way was Kepler's Supernova in 1604, but the remnants of recent supernovae have also been found. Observations of supernovae in other galaxies suggest they occur on average about three times every century in the Milky Way, and that any galactic supernova would almost certainly be observable with modern astronomical telescopes.

Theoretical studies indicate that most supernovae are triggered by one of two basic mechanisms: the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star or the sudden gravitational collapse of a massive star's core. In the first instance, a degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a binary companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature enough to trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star. In the second case, the core of a massive star may undergo sudden gravitational collapse, releasing gravitational potential energy as a supernova. While some observed supernovae are more complex than these two simplified theories, the astrophysical mechanics have been established and accepted by most astronomers for some time.

Supernovae can expel several solar masses of material at speeds up to several percent of the speed of light. This drives an expanding and fast-moving shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium, sweeping up an expanding shell of gas and dust observed as a supernova remnant. Supernovae are a major source of elements in the interstellar medium from oxygen through to rubidium. The expanding shock waves of supernova can trigger the formation of new stars. Supernova remnants might be a major source of cosmic rays. Supernovae might produce strong gravitational waves, though, thus far, the gravitational waves detected have been from the merger of black holes and neutron stars.


TRIUMF is Canada's national particle accelerator centre. It is considered Canada's premier physics laboratory, and is consistently regarded as one of the leading subatomic physics research centers on the international level. Owned and operated by a consortium of universities as a joint venture, TRIUMF is located on the south campus of one of its founding members – the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. TRIUMF houses the world's largest cyclotron, a source of 520 MeV protons, which was named an IEEE Milestone in 2010. TRIUMF's accelerator-focused activities involve particle physics, nuclear physics, nuclear medicine, materials science, and detector and accelerator development.

There are over 500 scientists, engineers, technicians, tradespeople, administrative staff, postdoctoral fellows, and students on the TRIUMF site. The lab attracts over 1000 national and international researchers every year and has generated over $1B in economic impact activity over the last decade.

TRIUMF scientists and university-based physicists develop and implement Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council's (NSERC) long-range plan for subatomic physics. TRIUMF uses these plans to develop its own priorities. TRIUMF has over 50 international agreements for collaborative scientific research.TRIUMF's cyclotron infrastructure has enabled the laboratory's proton therapy cancer treatment centre – the only one of its kind in Canada. TRIUMF's proton therapy centre is operated in conjunction with the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA) and the University of British Columbia Department of Ophthalmology. The TRIUMF Proton Therapy Centre specializes in the treatment of ocular melanoma and uses protons from the laboratory's 520 MeV cyclotron to irradiate cancerous tumors with high precision, thus destroying the tumor while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed.Asteroid 14959 TRIUMF is named in honour of the laboratory.


VOEvent is a standardized language used to report observations of astronomical events; it was officially adopted in 2006 by the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA). Though most VOEvent messages currently issued are related to supernovae, gravitational microlensing, and gamma-ray bursts, they are intended to be general enough to describe all types of observations of astronomical events, including gravitational wave events. Messages are written in XML, providing a structured metadata description of both the observations and the inferences derived from those observations. The rapid dissemination of event data with a formalized language was the

original impetus for the creation of VOEvents and the network (now called VOEventNet) used to transport the messages; indeed VOEvent messages are designed to be compact and quickly transmittable over the internet. The VOEvent language (which is codified in an XML schema) continues to evolve; the latest version is 2.0.

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