SuperNova Early Warning System


World-wide, several detectors currently running or nearing completion are sensitive to a core-collapse supernova neutrino signal in the Milky Way. The neutrino burst signal emerges promptly from a supernova's core, whereas it may take hours for the first photons to be visible. Therefore, the detection of the neutrino burst from the next Galactic supernova can provide an early warning for astronomers. Requiring a coincident signal from several detectors will provide the astronomical community with a very high confidence early warning of the supernova's occurrence. In addition, a neutrino burst alert may be able to serve as a trigger for detectors that are not able to trigger on a supernova signal by themselves, allowing extra data to be saved.

The SNEWS project involves an international collaboration of experimenters representing current supernova-neutrino-sensitive detectors. The goal of SNEWS is to provide the astronomical community with a prompt alert of the occurrence of a Galactic core-collapse event. We are also engaged in cooperative inter-experiment work, such as downtime coordination, to optimize global sensitivity to a core-collapse supernova signal.

SNEWS has been running in automated mode since 2005. Currently (September 2015), six neutrino experiments are involved: Super-K (Japan), LVD (Italy), IceCube (South Pole), KamLAND (Japan), Borexino (Italy) and Daya Bay (China); HALO (Canada) is expected to participate imminently. Anyone wishing to receive a prompt SNEWS alert may sign up for the mailing list. No nearby core collapses have occurred since SNEWS started running, but we are ready for the next one.

For more information, see Francis Reddy's article in Astronomy Magazine Online and the technical report in the New Journal of Physics.

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[NSF]SNEWS is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants PHY-1506069 and PHY-1505960.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.