Search for transient optical counterparts to high-energy IceCube neutrinos with Pan-STARRS1

E. Kankare, M. Huber, S. J. Smartt, K. Chambers, K. W. Smith, O. McBrien, T. W. Chen, H. Flewelling, T. Lowe, E. Magnier, A. Schultz, C. Waters, R. J. Wainscoat, M. Willman, D. Wright, D. Young, M. G. Aartsen, M. Ackermann, J. Adams, J. A. AguilarM. Ahlers, M. Ahrens, C. Alispach, D. Altmann, K. Andeen, T. Anderson, I. Ansseau, G. Anton, C. Argüelles, J. Auffenberg, S. Axani, P. Backes, H. Bagherpour, X. Bai, A. Barbano, S. W. Barwick, V. Baum, R. Bay, J. J. Beatty, K. H. Becker, J. Becker Tjus, S. Benzvi, D. Berley, E. Bernardini, D. Z. Besson, G. Binder, D. Bindig, E. Blaufuss, S. Blot, C. Bohm, M. Börner, S. Böser, O. Botner, E. Bourbeau, J. Bourbeau, F. Bradascio, J. Braun, H. P. Bretz, S. Bron, J. Brostean-Kaiser, A. Burgman, R. S. Busse, T. Carver, C. Chen, E. Cheung, D. Chirkin, K. Clark, L. Classen, G. H. Collin, J. M. Conrad, P. Coppin, P. Correa, D. F. Cowen, R. Cross, P. Dave, J. P.A.M. De André, C. De Clercq, J. J. Delaunay, H. Dembinski, K. Deoskar, S. De Ridder, P. Desiati, K. D. De Vries, G. De Wasseige, M. De With, T. Deyoung, J. C. Díaz-Vélez, H. Dujmovic, M. Dunkman, E. Dvorak, B. Eberhardt, T. Ehrhardt, P. Eller, P. A. Evenson, S. Fahey, A. R. Fazely, J. Felde, K. Filimonov, C. Finley, A. Franckowiak, E. Friedman, A. Fritz, T. K. Gaisser, J. Gallagher, E. Ganster, S. Garrappa, L. Gerhardt, K. Ghorbani, T. Glauch, T. Glüsenkamp, A. Goldschmidt, J. G. Gonzalez, D. Grant, Z. Griffith, M. Gündüz, C. Haack, A. Hallgren, L. Halve, F. Halzen, K. Hanson, D. Hebecker, D. Heereman, K. Helbing, R. Hellauer, F. Henningsen, S. Hickford, J. Hignight, G. C. Hill, K. D. Hoffman, R. Hoffmann, T. Hoinka, B. Hokanson-Fasig, K. Hoshina, F. Huang, M. Huber, K. Hultqvist, M. Hünnefeld, R. Hussain, S. In, N. Iovine, A. Ishihara, E. Jacobi, G. S. Japaridze, M. Jeong, K. Jero, B. J.P. Jones, P. Kalaczynski, W. Kang, A. Kappes, D. Kappesser, T. Karg, M. Karl, A. Karle, U. Katz, M. Kauer, A. Keivani, J. L. Kelley, A. Kheirandish, J. Kim, T. Kintscher, J. Kiryluk, T. Kittler, S. R. Klein, R. Koirala, H. Kolanoski, L. Köpke, C. Kopper, S. Kopper, D. J. Koskinen, M. Kowalski, K. Krings, G. Krückl, N. Kulacz, S. Kunwar, N. Kurahashi, A. Kyriacou, M. Labare, J. L. Lanfranchi, M. J. Larson, F. Lauber, J. P. Lazar, K. Leonard, M. Leuermann, Q. R. Liu, E. Lohfink, C. J. Lozano Mariscal, L. Lu, F. Lucarelli, J. Lünemann, W. Luszczak, J. Madsen, G. Maggi, K. B.M. Mahn, Y. Makino, K. Mallot, S. Mancina, I. C. Mariş, R. Maruyama, K. Mase, R. Maunu, K. Meagher, M. Medici, A. Medina, M. Meier, S. Meighen-Berger, T. Menne, G. Merino, T. Meures, S. Miarecki, J. Micallef, G. Momenté, T. Montaruli, R. W. Moore, M. Moulai, R. Nagai, R. Nahnhauer, P. Nakarmi, U. Naumann, G. Neer, H. Niederhausen, S. C. Nowicki, D. R. Nygren, A. Obertacke Pollmann, A. Olivas, A. O'Murchadha, E. O'Sullivan, T. Palczewski, H. Pandya, D. V. Pankova, N. Park, P. Peiffer, C. Pérez De Los Heros, D. Pieloth, E. Pinat, A. Pizzuto, M. Plum, P. B. Price, G. T. Przybylski, C. Raab, A. Raissi, M. Rameez, L. Rauch, K. Rawlins, I. C. Rea, R. Reimann, B. Relethford, G. Renzi, E. Resconi, W. Rhode, M. Richman, S. Robertson, M. Rongen, C. Rott, T. Ruhe, D. Ryckbosch, D. Rysewyk, I. Safa, S. E. Sanchez Herrera, A. Sandrock, J. Sandroos, M. Santander, S. Sarkar, K. Satalecka, M. Schaufel, P. Schlunder, T. Schmidt, A. Schneider, J. Schneider, L. Schumacher, S. Sclafani, D. Seckel, S. Seunarine, M. Silva, R. Snihur, J. Soedingrekso, D. Soldin, M. Song, G. M. Spiczak, C. Spiering, J. Stachurska, M. Stamatikos, T. Stanev, A. Stasik, R. Stein, J. Stettner, A. Steuer, T. Stezelberger, R. G. Stokstad, A. Stößl, N. L. Strotjohann, T. Stuttard, G. W. Sullivan, M. Sutherland, I. Taboada, F. Tenholt, S. Ter-Antonyan, A. Terliuk, S. Tilav, L. Tomankova, C. Tönnis, S. Toscano, D. Tosi, M. Tselengidou, C. F. Tung, A. Turcati, R. Turcotte, C. F. Turley, B. Ty, E. Unger, M. A. Unland Elorrieta, M. Usner, J. Vandenbroucke, W. Van Driessche, D. Van Eijk, N. Van Eijndhoven, S. Vanheule, J. Van Santen, M. Vraeghe, C. Walck, A. Wallace, M. Wallraff, N. Wandkowsky, T. B. Watson, C. Weaver, M. J. Weiss, J. Weldert, C. Wendt, J. Werthebach, S. Westerhoff, B. J. Whelan, N. Whitehorn, K. Wiebe, C. H. Wiebusch, L. Wille, D. R. Williams, L. Wills, M. Wolf, J. Wood, T. R. Wood, K. Woschnagg, G. Wrede, D. L. Xu, X. W. Xu, Y. Xu, J. P. Yanez, G. Yodh, S. Yoshida, T. Yuan, J. Nordin

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2 Scopus citations


In order to identify the sources of the observed diffuse high-energy neutrino flux, it is crucial to discover their electromagnetic counterparts. To increase the sensitivity of detecting counterparts of transient or variable sources by telescopes with a limited field of view, IceCube began releasing alerts for single high-energy (Eνâ> â60 TeV) neutrino detections with sky localisation regions of order 1° radius in 2016. We used Pan-STARRS1 to follow-up five of these alerts during 2016-2017 to search for any optical transients that may be related to the neutrinos. Typically 10-20 faint (miP1âââ22.5 mag) extragalactic transients are found within the Pan-STARRS1 footprints and are generally consistent with being unrelated field supernovae (SNe) and AGN. We looked for unusual properties of the detected transients, such as temporal coincidence of explosion epoch with the IceCube timestamp, or other peculiar light curve and physical properties. We found only one transient that had properties worthy of a specific follow-up. In the Pan-STARRS1 imaging for IceCube-160427A (probability to be of astrophysical origin of ∼50%), we found a SN PS16cgx, located at 10.0′ from the nominal IceCube direction. Spectroscopic observations of PS16cgx showed that it was an H-poor SN at redshift zâ=â0.2895â ±â 0.0001. The spectra and light curve resemble some high-energy Type Ic SNe, raising the possibility of a jet driven SN with an explosion epoch temporally coincident with the neutrino detection. However, distinguishing Type Ia and Type Ic SNe at this redshift is notoriously difficult. Based on all available data we conclude that the transient is more likely to be a Type Ia with relatively weak Siâ» II absorption and a fairly normal rest-frame r-band light curve. If, as predicted, there is no high-energy neutrino emission from Type Ia SNe, then PS16cgx must be a random coincidence, and unrelated to the IceCube-160427A. We find no other plausible optical transient for any of the five IceCube events observed down to a 5σ limiting magnitude of miP1â≈â22 mag, between 1 day and 25 days after detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA117
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. Pan-STARRS: Pan-STARRS is supported by the University of Hawaii and the NASA’s Planetary Defense Office under Grant No NNX14AM74G and the Pan-STARRS Multi-messenger science collaboration is supported by Queen’s University Belfast. The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys (PS1) have been made possible through contributions of the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, The Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, Queen’s University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-1238877, the University of Maryland, and Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE). IceCube: The IceCube collaboration acknowledges the significant contributions to this manuscript from Anna Franckowiak, Claudio Kopper and Jakob van San-ten. The IceCube collaboration gratefully 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 – Bundesminis-terium 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). Others: We thank the anonymous referee for useful comments. EK, SJS and KS acknowledge support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC; ST/P000312/1, ST/N002520/1). SJS acknowledges funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant agreement no [291222]. TWC acknowledgments the funding provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. AF thanks Irene Tamborra for fruitful discussions on neutrino production in supernovae. AF is supported by the Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association. This work is based (in part) on observations collected at the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, Chile as part of PESSTO, (the Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey for Transient Objects Survey) ESO program 188.D-3003 and the DDT programme 297.D-5024. Based on observations obtained at the Gemini Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the NSF on behalf of the Gemini partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), the National Research Council (Canada), CONICYT (Chile), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (Argentina), and Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (Brazil). Observations were carried out under programme GN-2016A-DD-9. Based on observations obtained with MegaPrime/MegaCam, a joint project of CFHT and CEA/IRFU, at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institut National des Science de l’Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France, and the University of Hawaii. This work is based in part on data products produced at Ter-apix available at the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre as part of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey, a collaborative project of NRC and CNRS. We have made use of the Weizmann interactive supernova data repository – ( This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Funding for SDSS-III has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The SDSS-III web site is ( SDSS-III is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS-III Collaboration including the University of Arizona, the Brazilian Participation Group, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Florida, the French Participation Group, the German Participation Group, Harvard University, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the Michigan State/Notre Dame/JINA Participation Group, Johns Hopkins University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, New Mexico State University, New York University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the Spanish Participation Group, University of Tokyo, University of Utah, Vanderbilt University, University of Virginia, University of Washington, and Yale University.

Funding Information:
4 IRAF is distributed by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.


  • Astroparticle physics
  • Neutrinos
  • Supernovae: general

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