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    The origin of cosmic high-energy neutrinos remains largely unexplained. For high-energy neutrino alerts from IceCube, a coincidence with time-variable emission has been seen for three different types of accreting black holes: (1) a gamma-ray flare from a blazar (TXS 0506+056), (2) an optical transient following a stellar tidal disruption event (TDE; AT2019dsg), and (3) an optical outburst from an active galactic nucleus (AGN; AT2019fdr). For the latter two sources, infrared follow-up observations revealed a powerful reverberation signal due to dust heated by the flare. This discovery motivates a systematic study of neutrino emission from all supermassive black hole with similar dust echoes. Because dust reprocessing is agnostic to the origin of the outburst, our work unifies TDEs and high-amplitude flares from AGN into a population that we dub accretion flares. Besides the two known events, we uncover a third flare that is coincident with a PeV-scale neutrino (AT2019aalc). Based solely on the optical and infrared properties, we estimate a significance of 3.6σ for this association of high-energy neutrinos with three accretion flares. Our results imply that at least ∼10 per cent of the IceCube high-energy neutrino alerts could be due to accretion flares. This is surprising because the sum of the fluence of these flares is at least three orders of magnitude lower compared to the total fluence of normal AGN. It thus appears that the efficiency of high-energy neutrino production in accretion flares is increased compared to non-flaring AGN. We speculate that this can be explained by the high Eddington ratio of the flares.

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    We report on the search for optical counterparts to IceCube neutrino alerts released between 2016 April and 2021 August with the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN). Despite the discovery of a diffuse astrophysical high-energy neutrino flux in 2013, the source of those neutrinos remains largely unknown. Since 2016, IceCube has published likely astrophysical neutrinos as public real-time alerts. Through a combination of normal survey and triggered target-of-opportunity observations, ASAS-SN obtained images within 1 h of the neutrino detection for 20 per cent (11) of all observable IceCube alerts and within one day for another 57 per cent (32). For all observable alerts, we obtained images within at least two weeks from the neutrino alert. ASAS-SN provides the only optical follow-up for about 17 per cent of IceCube’s neutrino alerts. We recover the two previously claimed counterparts to neutrino alerts, the flaring-blazar TXS 0506 + 056 and the tidal disruption event AT2019dsg. We investigate the light curves of previously detected transients in the alert footprints, but do not identify any further candidate neutrino sources. We also analysed the optical light curves of Fermi 4FGL sources coincident with high-energy neutrino alerts, but do not identify any contemporaneous flaring activity. Finally, we derive constraints on the luminosity functions of neutrino sources for a range of assumed evolution models.

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    The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) performs a systematic neutrino follow-up programme, searching for optical counterparts to high-energy neutrinos with dedicated Target-of-Opportunity (ToO) observations. Since first light in March 2018, ZTF has taken prompt observations for 24 high-quality neutrino alerts from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, with a median latency of 12.2 h from initial neutrino detection. From two of these campaigns, we have already reported tidal disruption event (TDE) AT 2019dsg and likely TDE AT 2019fdr as probable counterparts, suggesting that TDEs contribute >7.8 per cent of the astrophysical neutrino flux. We here present the full results of our programme through to December 2021. No additional candidate neutrino sources were identified by our programme, allowing us to place the first constraints on the underlying optical luminosity function of astrophysical neutrino sources. Transients with optical absolutes magnitudes brighter that −21 can contribute no more than 87 per cent of the total, while transients brighter than −22 can contribute no more than 58 per cent of the total, neglecting the effect of extinction and assuming they follow the star formation rate. These are the first observational constraints on the neutrino emission of bright populations such as superluminous supernovae. None of the neutrinos were coincident with bright optical AGN flares comparable to that observed for TXS 0506+056/IC170922A, with such optical blazar flares producing no more than 26 per cent of the total neutrino flux. We highlight the outlook for electromagnetic neutrino follow-up programmes, including the expected potential for the Rubin Observatory.

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