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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2018 can be found here.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  Supernova Neutrinos
Disciplines:  Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics, Computer Science
Mentor:  Kate Scholberg, Professor of Physics, (PMA),, Phone: 919-660-2962
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  NOTE: This project is being offered by a Caltech alumna and will be conducted at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

When a massive star reaches the end of its life, it collapses, and most of its binding energy is released in the form of a gigantic burst of neutrinos over a timescale of tens of seconds. Neutrinos interact rarely, but a neutrino burst may be detected in large detectors on Earth for core collapse supernovae in or nearby our Milky Way galaxy. An observed burst of neutrinos will yield a wealth of information about astrophysics, and about the properties of neutrinos themselves. For instance, neutrinos can change their type, or flavor (by ``neutrino oscillation'') as they propagate; observed neutrino energy spectra, time and flavor profiles will tell us about neutrino mass and oscillation parameters. Because the neutrinos escape the star promptly, they may also provide a prompt alert for the occurrence of a supernova explosion.

Currently several large neutrino detectors are sensitive to the burst of neutrinos from a supernova. These include Super-Kamiokande, a large underground water Cherenkov detector in Japan; LVD and Borexino, scintillator detectors at Gran Sasso in Italy; and IceCube, an ice Cherenkov detector at the South Pole. The next generation of neutrino detectors is currently under design, and studies to optimize detector configuration for future supernova neutrino physics sensitivity are now underway. In particular, large water, liquid-argon and scintillator detectors are envisioned. Among the questions to be answered are: what will be the sensitivity of these detectors to neutrino oscillations if a supernova neutrino burst occurs? What will be the pointing sensitivity and early alert capability? How far beyond the edge of the Milky Way will we be able to see? How well can we determine the direction of the supernova? How should we select detector design parameters to maximize the information obtained given available resources? How can we exploit worldwide multimessenger astronomy capabilities (e.g., gravitational waves) to maximize physics and astrophysics output from the next detection?
Description:  The student will participate in simulation and physics sensitivity studies to optimize the capabilities of next-generation supernova detectors, including large water, argon and lead-based detectors.
Student Requirements:  Computer programming, any language (C++ preferred)
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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