Chasing ghost particles: searching for neutrinos from high-energy sources in real time.
Neutrinos are tiny, nearly massless particles that interact very rarely. Because of this, astrophysical neutrinos can travel very far, all the way to the South Pole, carrying information directly from their sources. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory has detected these astrophysical neutrinos, but only a few sources have been identified thus far. We search for these neutrinos from transient sources – sources that vary in their brightness over time, such as gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), supernovae, novae, or mergers of compact objects. These sources often have very energetic processes happening inside them to accelerate particles and produce these neutrinos. By searching for these transient sources as they’re happening (in real time), we can inform follow-up by other observatories also searching for them, and better understand the nature of some of the highest energy phenomena in our universe.
Jessie Thwaites is a 4th year graduate student in the UW—Madison Physics department, working with Justin Vandenbroucke on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Their research focuses on searching for high energy astrophysical sources of neutrinos from transient sources, in both real time and archival data. In addition to research, Jessie writes for Astrobites, a daily science communication blog that summarizes astronomy or astrophysics papers into bite-sized pieces for the public. Outside of physics, Jessie plays horn and enjoys hanging out with their cat, Ryan.
This meeting will take place in-person at our usual Space Place classroom location. It will also be streamed live to our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/@madisonastronomicalsociety