Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Notkestraße 85
22607 Hamburg

Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Physik
Newtonstrasse 15
12489 Berlin

Astrophysics is experiencing an exciting time: Within the last 3 years, gravitational waves as well as the first high-energy neutrinos of cosmic origin were detected, thereby opening two new windows to the Universe. However, there are more questions than answers and this proposal focuses on the most pressing question in the new field of neutrino astronomy: What are the sources of the observed neutrinos and what are the astrophysical processes within the sources that produce these neutrinos?
High-energy neutrinos are produced in the most violent places in the Universe – places which are capable of accelerating particles to energies ten million times larger than the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth. They interact only weakly with matter allowing them to escape even the densest regions in celestial objects and travel undeflected through the Universe, making them ideal messengers from the high-energy Universe. However, the same properties that make neutrinos unique astrophysical messengers make them very hard to detect. Giant detector volumes of cubic kilometer scale are necessary to catch a few of the rare neutrino interactions. In 2013 the world’s largest neutrino detector, the IceCube neutrino Observatory located at the South Pole, discovered for the first time a flux of astrophysical neutrinos marking the beginning of neutrino astronomy.
No significant spatial or temporal neutrino cluster was found and the origin of the neutrinos is unknown. Candidate source classes comprise active nuclei of distant galaxies (AGNs), gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), supernovae (SNe), starburst galaxies and tidal disruption events (TDEs). Further multi-messenger constraints disfavor certain source classes such as blazars (AGNs with a jet pointing towards the observer), gamma-bright GRBs and starburst galaxies. Since the remaining plausible candidates can be tested with dedicated multi-messenger campaigns, a unique scientific opportunity is arising that I am planning to exploit. In this proposal I address the fundamental question about the origin of the discovered neutrinos using a multi-messenger approach, combining high-energy neutrino data with data from leading wide-field optical and gamma-ray telescopes. In contrast to using neutrino data alone, multiwavelength data tells us where and when to look for a neutrino signal, which greatly increases our sensitivity. I will build up a real-time analysis center at DESY for the identification and correlation of astrophysical neutrinos and electromagnetic transient events to fully explore the joined potential of multi-messenger information to identify the sources of astrophysical high-energy neutrinos.
The proposed method will for the first time provide sufficient sensitivity for detecting high-energy neutrinos from SNe and other transients, assuming they are the main sources of the diffuse neutrino flux detected by IceCube. Discovering the neutrino sources will have a transformational impact on the young field of neutrino astronomy and astroparticle physics as a whole. These efforts are timely and well synchronized with the recent discovery of the first astrophysical high-energy neutrinos by IceCube, availability of the all-sky optical survey ASAS-SN and the start of operation of the wide-field optical telescope ZTF in 2017 with participation of DESY and HU Berlin. The proposed project builds on my expertise in both neutrino and gamma-ray astronomy – two key science topics at DESY – paired with my experience in optical data analysis, thereby uniquely combining them to answer one of the most pressing questions in astroparticle physics today.

Leader of the Helmholtz Young Investigators Group:

Dr. Anna Franckowiak
Platanenallee 6
5738, Zeuthen
Office: A2/03
Phone: +49 (0)40 8998-7346
Email: anna.franckowiak@desy.de

Partner universitiy

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Marek Kowalski
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Physik
Newtonstrasse 15
12489 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 2093 7635
Email: marek.kowalski@desy.de

Weiterführende Links
application/pdf Sachbericht 2017 (16KB)
application/pdf Sachbericht 2018 (377KB)
application/pdf Sachbericht 2019 (1.5 MB)
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