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The Columbia neutrino group has recently joined the effort towards a new, second-generation neutrino detector at the South Pole called IceCube-Gen2. The existing IceCube detector recently started observing a significant flux of high-energy neutrinos of cosmic origin which represents the “first light” of the emerging field of neutrino astronomy. The high level of the neutrino flux observed implies that a significant fraction of the energy in the non-thermal universe is generated in hadronic accelerators. These astrophysical accelerators should also be strong emitters of gamma rays, which can be detected using current space- and ground-based instruments such as the Fermi satellite and the VERITAS telescope array. High-energy neutrinos could reveal new astrophysical sources, or provide new insights on the particle acceleration processes at work in known gamma-ray sources.

Next generation detectors such as IceCube-Gen2 and the planned Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) gamma-ray observatory will enable more sensitive studies of the extreme sky. The IceCube-Gen2 project is to provide a substantial expansion of the current 1 km3 IceCube detector with the aim of instrumenting a 10 km3 volume of clear glacial ice at the South Pole and delivering substantial increases in astrophysical neutrino samples of all flavors. A detector of this size would have a rich physics program and would aim to resolve the sources of these astrophysical neutrinos, discover GZK neutrinos, and be a key observatory in future multi-messenger astronomy programs. By delivering larger samples of high-energy neutrinos with improved angular resolution and energy measurement, a detailed understanding of the source distribution, spectrum and flavor composition of the astrophysical neutrinos is within reach. This sample will reveal an unobstructed view of the Universe at >PeV energy, unexplored wavelengths where most of the Universe is opaque to high energy photons. The operation of the IceCube-Gen2 detector, in coincidence with next-generation telescopes such as CTA and gravitational wave detectors will present totally novel opportunities for multi-messenger astronomy and multi-wavelength follow-up campaigns to obtain a truly complete picture of astrophysical sources.

This summer’s IceCube REU student will work in close cooperation with members of the local VERITAS and neutrino groups in the analysis and interpretation of data collected by VERITAS and Fermi to search for gamma-ray counterparts of IceCube neutrino events. This work will also involve researching and studying potential neutrino source scenarios and determining detection prospects for future instruments such as IceCube-Gen2 and CTA.

(For more information on the IceCube-Gen2 and PINGU see this link.)