IceCube

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Christopher Wiebusch

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The IceCube Neutrino Detector is a neutrino telescope at the South Pole. Like its predecessor, the Antarctic Muon And Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA), IceCube is constructed in deep Antarctic ice by deploying thousands of spherical optical sensors (photomultiplier tubes, or PMTs) at depths between 1,450 and 2,450 meters. The sensors are deployed on "strings" of sixty modules each, into holes in the ice melted using a hot water drill.

Schematics of the IceCube detector IceCube Collaboration

The main goal of the experiment is to detect neutrinos in the high energy range, spanning from 1011eV to about 1021eV. The neutrinos are not detected themselves. Instead, the rare instance of a collision between a neutrino and an atom within the ice is used to deduce the kinematic parameters of the incoming neutrino. Current estimates predict the detection of about one thousand such events per day in the fully constructed IceCube detector. Due to the high density of the ice, almost all detected products of the initial collision will be muons. Therefore the experiment is most sensitive to the flux of muon neutrinos through its volume. Most of these neutrinos will come from "cascades" in Earth's atmosphere caused by cosmic rays, but some unknown fraction may come from astronomical sources. To distinguish these two sources statistically, the direction and angle of the incoming neutrino is estimated from its collision by-products. One can generally say, that a neutrino coming from above "down" into the detector is most likely stemming from an atmospheric shower, and a neutrino traveling "up" from below is more likely from a different source.

The sources of those neutrinos coming "up" from below could be black holes, gamma ray bursts, or supernova remnants. The data that IceCube will collect will also contribute to our understanding of cosmic rays, supersymmetry, weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPS), and other aspects of nuclear and particle physics.

Main research in Aachen

Logo of the IceCube experiment IceCube Collaboration

In Aachen we contribute in various ways to the IceCube experiment. Among these are:

  • Analysis of data from IceCube
    • Search for cosmic neutrino sources
    • Search for the cosmic neutrino flux
    • Search for Dark Matter
    • Investigation of atmospheric neutrinos and their oscillations
  • Detector development for future experiments
    • high energy extension for IceCube (DecaCube)
    • low energy extension for IceCube (PINGU)
    • surface extension of IceCube (IceVeto)
    • acustic neutrino detection (AAL - Aachen Acoustic Laboratory)
    • development of new air shower detectors (IceAct, RASTA)

Aachen IceCube group

Group picture of the IceCube group RWTH IceCube Group Picture of the Aachen IceCube Group

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