APL Colloquium

February 7, 2003

Colloquium Topic: High-Energy Neutrino Astronomy at the South Pole

AMANDA (Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array) has been constructed at the South Pole to search for astrophysical sources of high-energy neutrinos. Such "neutrino telescopes" have the potential to open a heretofore-unexplored new window on the universe because of the unique properties of neutrinos, which are subatomic particles with cross sections so small that most will pass through the earth without interacting. This makes them an ideal astronomical messenger, as they can travel directly to us from astronomical sites that are normally obscured from view, such as optically thick accretion disks around supermassive black holes at the center of Active Galactic Nuclei. AMANDA consists of a large array of photomultiplier tubes buried 1 to 2 km deep in the Antarctic ice sheet. Neutrinos passing through the earth from the northern hemisphere can interact in the ice or rock below the detector to produce an upward moving muon, which emits Cherenkov radiation that is detected by the phototubes. The talk will summarize current AMANDA status and results from the perspective of first-hand experience in the Antarctic.

Colloquium Speaker: Tim Miller

Dr. Tim Miller graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1986 with B.A.'s in physics and mathematics. He worked from 1986 to 1988 at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, California, then went on to receive his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993. From 1993 to 1999, he was a Research Scientist with Bartol Research Institute, located at the University of Delaware, where he specialized in experimental cosmic ray physics and high energy astrophysics. Between 1990 and 1998 he traveled to Antarctica six times and Greenland once to work on various astrophysics experiments. These included AMANDA and the South Pole Air Shower Experiment (SPASE), a project to study the composition of high-energy cosmic rays. In 2000, he accepted a position as a Research Staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, VA, where he investigated science issues relating to various Department of Defense projects. In 2001, he joined the Air Defense Systems Department at the Applied Physics Laboratory, where he has concentrated on missile defense analysis. Dr. Miller continues to collaborate on both AMANDA and SPASE.