Scientists Recommend IceCube Should Be Eight Times Bigger

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, operated by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M), located at the AmundsenScott South Pole Station in Antarctica, is one of the most ambitious neutrino observatories in the world. Behind this observatory is the IceCube Collaboration, an international group of 300 physicists from 59 institutions in 14 countries. Relying on a cubic kilometer of ice to protect it from outside interference, this observatory is dedicated to the search for neutrinos. These nearly massless subatomic particles are among the most abundant in the Universe and constantly pass through normal matter.

By studying these particles, scientists hope to gain insight into some of the most violent astrophysical sources – such as supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, merging black holes and neutron stars, etc. . The group of scientists tasked with advising the US government on particle physics research is known as the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5). In a recent draft report, “Pathways to Innovation and Discovery in Particle Physics,” the P5 team recommends a planned expansion of IceCube. This recommendation is one of several that defines the future of research in astrophysics and particle physics.

The report also recommends support for a separate Illinois-based neutrino experiment called the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, along with several projects at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, the Cherenkov Telescope Array , and the development of next-generation land. -based telescope to observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The P5 advisors include two UWMadison faculty members, Tulika Bose and Kyle Cranmer, and UWMadison physicists also hold leading roles in the projects listed above.

A view of the IceCube Lab with a starry night sky showing the Milky Way and green auroras. Credit: Yuya Makino, IceCube/NSF

Bose was an experimental particle physicist who worked on the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the LHC. His research is focused on the search for exotic particles, Dark Matter, and Standard Model measurements. Cranmer’s research was equally focused on the search for exotic particles and physics beyond the Standard Model, which included the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. Along with their P5 colleagues, the two have spent much of the past year evaluating the future of particle physics and recommending projects that will help advance the field.

One of the main concerns of the P5 panel is how the federal government can maximize the limited funding it has allocated to particle physics research over the next decade. This is one of the main reasons for the recommended IceCube expansion, colloquially named ICECube-Gen2. As they show in their report, upgrading the existing observatory would be a relatively cost-effective way to improve the scientific community’s ability to detect and analyze neutrinos:

“IceCube-Gen2 also has a strong science case in multi-messenger astrophysics along with gravitational wave observatories… science site to allow continued US leadership in these areas.”

Using new technology and taking advantage of the bright ice that we can model with higher precision, IceCube-Gen2 can expand the number of detections by a factor of eight for a cost comparable to IceCube,” said Albrecht Karle, a UWMadison physics professor who led the IceCube upgrade in a UW-M press release.

In addition to supporting the expansion of IceCube and other large-scale experiments, the panel recommended an improved funding balance between projects of all sizes, a more aggressive research and development program which could lead to a next-generation particle accelerator, and expanding the country’s advanced technology workforce. . Bose indicated that he was particularly excited about the possibility of a new particle accelerator, which could be located in the US. Such a collider is an unparalleled global facility that will provide new insights into the mysteries of our quantum universe.

The P5 panel’s recommendations are now being reviewed by the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP), part of the US Department of Energy (DoE), which is scheduled to meet on December 8 to discuss the recommendations. The online version of the P5 report can be found here on the DoE website, and the 2-page summary can be found on the HEPAP site here.

Further Reading: University of Wisconsin-Madison

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