Supernova Early Warning System

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The SuperNova Early Warning System (SNEWS) is a network of neutrino detectors designed to give early warning to astronomers in the event of a supernova in our home galaxy or a nearby galaxy such as the Large Magellanic Cloud or the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy. Enormous numbers of neutrinos are produced in the core of a red giant star as it collapses on itself. In the current model the neutrinos are emitted well before the light from the supernova peaks, so in principle neutrino detectors could give advance warning to astronomers that a supernova has occurred and may soon be visible. The neutrino pulse from supernova 1987A was detected 3 hours before the associated photons (although SNEWS was not yet active).

The current members of SNEWS are Borexino, Super-Kamiokande, LVD, Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and IceCube. SNO is not currently active as it is being upgraded to its successor program SNO+.

SNEWS began operation prior to 2004, with three members (Super-Kamiokande, LVD, and SNO). As of June 2013, SNEWS has not issued any SN alerts.

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