First search for GeV neutrinos from bright gamma-ray solar flares using the IceCube Neutrino Observatory
July 22, 2019
July 02, 2021
In response to a reported increase in the total neutrino flux in the Homestake experiment in coincidence with solar flares at the end of the eighties, solar neutrino detectors have searched for solar flare signals. Solar flares convert magnetic energy into thermal energy of plasma and kinetic energy of charged particles such as protons. As a consequence of magnetic reconnection, protons are injected downwards from the coronal acceleration region and can interact with dense plasma in the lower solar atmosphere, producing mesons that will subsequently decay into gamma rays and neutrinos at O(MeV-GeV) energies.
The main motivation to search for solar flare neutrinos comes from their hadronic origin. As
inherent products of high-energy proton collisions with the chromosphere, they are a direct probe of the proton accelerated towards the chromosphere. Using a multi-messenger approach, it is therefore possible to constrain the proton acceleration taking place in the solar flares, including the spectral index of the accelerated flux and its shape.
We present the results of the first search for GeV neutrinos emitted during solar flares carried out with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. We present a new approach which allows us to strongly lower the energy threshold of IceCube, originally designed to detect 10 GeV - PeV neutrinos. We compare the results with theoretical estimates of the corresponding flux.
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