Characteristics of the diffuse astrophysical electron and Tau neutrino flux with six years of IceCube high energy cascade data

(IceCube Collaboration)

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129 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the first measurement of the astrophysical neutrino flux using particle showers (cascades) in IceCube data from 2010-2015. Assuming standard oscillations, the astrophysical neutrinos in this dedicated cascade sample are dominated (∼90%) by electron and tau flavors. The flux, observed in the sensitive energy range from 16 TeV to 2.6 PeV, is consistent with a single power-law model as expected from Fermi-type acceleration of high energy particles at astrophysical sources. We find the flux spectral index to be γ=2.53±0.07 and a flux normalization for each neutrino flavor of φastro=1.66-0.27+0.25 at E0=100 TeV, in agreement with IceCube's complementary muon neutrino results and with all-neutrino flavor fit results. In the measured energy range we reject spectral indices γ≤2.28 at ≥3σ significance level. Because of high neutrino energy resolution and low atmospheric neutrino backgrounds, this analysis provides the most detailed characterization of the neutrino flux at energies below ∼100 TeV compared to previous IceCube results. Results from fits assuming more complex neutrino flux models suggest a flux softening at high energies and a flux hardening at low energies (p value ≥0.06). The sizable and smooth flux measured below ∼100 TeV remains a puzzle. In order to not violate the isotropic diffuse gamma-ray background as measured by the Fermi Large Area Telescope, it suggests the existence of astrophysical neutrino sources characterized by dense environments which are opaque to gamma rays.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121104
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The IceCube collaboration acknowledges the significant contributions to this Letter from the Stony Brook University. We acknowledge the support from the following agencies: USA—U.S. National Science Foundation–Office of Polar Programs, U.S. National Science Foundation-Physics Division, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Center for High Throughput Computing (CHTC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Open Science Grid (OSG), Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), U.S. Department of Energy-National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, Particle Astrophysics Research Computing Center at the University of Maryland, Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research at Michigan State University, and Astroparticle physics computational facility at Marquette University; Belgium—Funds for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS and FWO), FWO Odysseus and Big Science programmes, and Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (Belspo); Germany—Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Helmholtz Alliance for Astroparticle Physics (HAP), Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association, Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron (DESY), and High Performance Computing cluster of the RWTH Aachen; Sweden—Swedish Research Council, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), and Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation; Australia—Australian Research Council; Canada—Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Calcul Québec, Compute Ontario, Canada Foundation for Innovation, WestGrid, and Compute Canada; Denmark—Villum Fonden, Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF), Carlsberg Foundation; New Zealand—Marsden Fund; Japan—Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) and Institute for Global Prominent Research (IGPR) of Chiba University; Korea—National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF); Switzerland—Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF); United Kingdom—Department of Physics, University of Oxford.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Physical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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