Presupernova Neutrinos: Directional Sensitivity and Prospects for Progenitor Identification

Mainak Mukhopadhyay, Cecilia Lunardini, F. X. Timmes, Kai Zuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We explore the potential of current and future liquid scintillator neutrino detectors of O(10) kt mass to localize a presupernova neutrino signal in the sky. In the hours preceding the core collapse of a nearby star (at distance D ≤ 1kpc), tens to hundreds of inverse beta decay events will be recorded, and their reconstructed topology in the detector can be used to estimate the direction to the star. Although the directionality of inverse beta decay is weak (∼8% forward-backward asymmetry for currently available liquid scintillators), we find that for a fiducial signal of 200 events (which is realistic for Betelgeuse), a positional error of ∼60° can be achieved, resulting in the possibility to narrow the list of potential stellar candidates to less than 10, typically. For a configuration with improved forward-backward asymmetry (∼40%, as expected for a lithium-loaded liquid scintillator), the angular sensitivity improves to ∼15°, and-when a distance upper limit is obtained from the overall event rate-it is in principle possible to uniquely identify the progenitor star. Any localization information accompanying an early supernova alert will be useful to multimessenger observations and to particle physics tests using collapsing stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 20 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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