Nick van Eijndhoven

“Neutrino Astronomy with IceCube and its Deep Core extension”

 

Nick van Eijndhoven was born on April 11th 1960 in's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

He graduated in experimental high-energy physics at the University of Nijmegen (NL) in 1983. From Nijmegen he moved to the University of Amsterdam (NL) to work on deep

inelastic (anti)neutrino-Deuterium scattering with the high-energy neutrino beams of the CERN accelerator complex in Geneva, Switzerland. He obtained his PhD in 1987 with a dissertation on the determination of the chiral coupling constants of u and d quarks.

After obtaining his PhD he became a CERN staff fellow to work on the LEP electron-positron collider experiment DELPHI, with a focus on the development of physics criteria to detect the decay of a light Higgs particle. In 1991 he became a tenured staff member at the University of

Utrecht (NL), where he introduced a new research line in the field of ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions with the CERN accelerator facilities. Within various international collaborations he played a role as coordinator of both the design of detector systems (simulation studies)

and the development of innovative analysis methods and in 1998 he was appointed associate professor at the Utrecht University. In 2002 he has taken the initiative to start an activity in the  interdisciplinary field between astrophysics and particle physics, called Astroparticle Physics. In collaboration with colleagues from the Utrecht astrophysics department and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) this resulted in a participation within the

IceCube project; the world's largest neutrino telescope at the South Pole. Within IceCube he is the projectleader of the Dutch group and his scientific focus is on transient phemomena, i.e. Gamma Ray Bursts and flares of Active Galactic Nuclei, which are believed to be the most violent cosmic events and the sources of the most energetic Cosmic Rays that hit the Earth.

 

Astroparticle Physics revolves around phenomena that involve (astro)physics under the most extreme conditions. Black holes with masses a billion times greater than the mass of the Sun, accelerate particles to velocities close to the speed of light. The produced high-energy particles may be detected on Earth and as such provide us insight in the physical processes underlying these cataclysmic events.

Neutrinos are special astronomical messengers; only they can carry information from cosmological events at the edge of the Universe directly towards the Earth. Furthermore, since they are hardly hindered by intervening matter, they are the only messengers that can provide information about the central cores of the cosmic accelerators.

Observation of extraterrestrial high-energy neutrinos would have an enormous impact on the field of astrophysics and cosmology. It would open a completely new window on the Universe, revealing parts not accessible by other messengers and as such neutrino astronomy is poised to yield new, unexpected discoveries. The situation could probably best being compared with the advent of radio astronomy, which also revealed a large scala of new phenomena.

With IceCube, the world's largest neutrino observatory at the South Pole, a world wide effort has been initiated to search for high-energy neutrinos from cosmic phenomena. IceCube (http://www.icecube.wisc.edu) is a neutrino telescope consisting of an array of optical sensors, located in the icecap of the South Pole at depths between 1450 and 2450 m. Currently an additional dense array of sensors is being installed down to the largest possible depths in the Antarctic ice and completely surrounded by the standard IceCube sensors, acting as a veto.

This additional detector component is dubbed the Deep Core extension and it will allow us to search for cosmic neutrinos with unprecedented sensitivity.  The focus of the proposed research is on the most violent cosmic explosions, i.e. Gamma Ray Bursts and flares of Active Galactic Nuclei. Combination of satellite observations with the data of IceCube with its Deep Core extension opens up the possibility of identifying high-energy neutrinos originating from these transient cosmic events for the first time in history.