The failure of neutrinos to show up at an Antarctic telescope has knocked down a major astrophysical theory involving some of the most dramatic explosions in the universe. Neutrinos are emitted by a range of cosmic processes. Most stream through matter without being deflected or changed, making them ideal long-distance messengers from distant galaxies.
The IceCube telescope monitors a cubic kilometre of ice beneath the South Pole for neutrinos of various types, including the cosmic variety. Vertical strings of detectors frozen into the ice watch for flashes of blue light emitted when neutrinos strike. The energy of the neutrino determines its source.