The American Astronomical Society
The Astrophysical Journal
The recent discovery of a diffuse cosmic neutrino flux extending up to PeV energies raises the question of which astrophysical sources generate this signal. Blazars are one class of extragalactic sources which may produce such high-energy neutrinos. We present a likelihood analysis searching for cumulative neutrino emission from blazars in the 2nd Fermi-LAT AGN catalog (2LAC) using IceCube neutrino data set 2009-12, which was optimized for the detection of individual sources. In contrast to those in previous searches with IceCube, the populations investigated contain up to hundreds of sources, the largest one being the entire blazar sample in the 2LAC catalog. No significant excess is observed, and upper limits for the cumulative flux from these populations are obtained. These constrain the maximum contribution of 2LAC blazars to the observed astrophysical neutrino flux to 27% or less between around 10 TeV and 2 PeV, assuming the equipartition of flavors on Earth and a single power-law spectrum with a spectral index of −2.5. We can still exclude the fact that 2LAC blazars (and their subpopulations) emit more than 50% of the observed neutrinos up to a spectral index as hard as −2.2 in the same energy range. Our result takes into account the fact that the neutrino source count distribution is unknown, and it does not assume strict proportionality of the neutrino flux to the measured 2LAC γ-ray signal for each source. Additionally, we constrain recent models for neutrino emission by blazars.