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Macias and Horiuchi Reveal Mystery Gamma Rays Arise from Ancient Stars

      CNP's Oscar Macias and Shunsaku Horiuchi, in collaboration with researchers from Australia, Germany, and New Zealand, have discovered that a mysterious gamma-ray signal from the center of the Milky Way arises from ancient stars, rather than dark matter as previously thought.

      When NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope launched in 2008, it opened an unprecedented view of the gamma-ray sky, bringing a surprising and mysterious gamma-ray signal coming from the center of the Milky Way. It had been speculated that the signal could be a dark matter phenomenon, emitted when dark matter particles collide with their anti-particles. Yet the Galactic center is not only rich in dark matter; it is also populated by stars billions of years old that make up a structure called the Galactic bulge. Macias, Horiuchi, and collaborators showed that the mysterious gamma-ray signal closely traces the distribution of the Galactic bulge, disfavoring a dark matter origin. The team hypothesizes that the signal arises from old neutron stars that been spun up, called millisecond pulsars, which are known emitters of gamma-ray radiation. Thousands of millisecond pulsars are expected to populate the Galactic bulge, blending together to generate a smoothly distributed signal closely following the bulge. Ongoing observational and theoretical work is underway to verify or refute the hypothesis that millisecond pulsars are responsible for the gamma-ray signal.

      The results have been published in Nature Astronomy (see here for a copy The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Prof. Shunsaku Horiuch and Dr. Oscar Macias

Virginia Tech to Host NuFACT 2018

      The Center for Neutrino Physics at Virginia Tech will host the 20th International Workshop on Neutrino from Accelerators from August 12th to 18th, 2018. The main goal of the workshop is to review the progress of current and future facilities able to improve on measurements of the properties of neutral and charged lepton flavor violation, as well as searches for new phenomena beyond the capabilities of presently planned experiments. The workshop is both interdisciplinary and inter-regional in that experimenters, theorists and accelerator physicists from Asia, the Americas and Europe share expertise with the common goal of reviewing the results of currently operating experiments and designing the next generation of experiments. The workshop has five working groups covering the following topics: 1) Neutrino Oscillation Physics, 2) Neutrino Scattering Physics, 3) Accelerator Physics, 4) Muon Physics, and 5) Neutrinos Beyond PMNS.

      NuFACT 2018 is sponsored by the Center for Neutrino Physics, Virginia Tech's Department of Physics, Virginia Tech's College of Science, and Virginia Tech's Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation.

CNP Researchers Deploy a Neutrino Detector Designed to Track Nuclear Activity

      Researchers at the Virginia Tech College of Science are carrying out a research project at Dominion Power's North Anna Nuclear Generating Station in Virginia that could lead to a new turning point in how the United Nations tracks rogue nations that seek nuclear power. This project centers on a high-tech box full of scintillating plastic cubes stacked atop one another (a detector called MiniCHANDLER) that can be placed just outside a nuclear reactor operated by, say, Iran. The box would detect the neutrinos produced by the reactor, which can be used to track the amount of plutonium produced in the reactor core.

      Created in large amounts during plant operation, the cast-off neutrinos that escape the reactor cannot be shielded or disguised, thus creating a foolproof tracking system for regulators, Link said. There is a challenge in separating neutrinos created by the reactor from everyday radioactive "noise" from the ground or raining down from energetic cosmic particles slamming into the Earth's atmosphere, but the team are confident they can extract a signal solely from the reactor neutrino output.

Read the Full Press Release

Prof. Jonathan Link poses with the Mobile Neutrino Lab at the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station. Inside a high-tech box is designed to detect neutrinos produced in the reactor.

Prof. Minic Gets Grant from the Schwinger Foundation

      The Julian Schwinger Foundation has awarded a $60,000 grant to CNP's Djordje Minic and his collaborators, Laurent Freidel of Perimeter Institute and Robert G. Leigh od the University of Illinois, that will be used to enhance their already existing collaborative effort through travel support (over the next 2 years), for travel between their respective home institutions and for conference-related travel.

      Freidel, Leigh and Minic have been doing research on the foundations of quantum theory and string theory, which builds on the prescient work of Julian Schwinger, and also on the work of Yakir Aharonov and collaborators, on the subject of modular variables in quantum theory. Very recently, Freidel, Leigh and Minic have found a novel geometry that underlies such a generic modular picture of quantum theory, which also points towards a new approach to the problem of quantum gravity. At the moment Freidel, Leigh and Minic are investigating in more detail the modular geometry of generic representations of quantum theory, including a modular representation of quantum field theory and the metastring formulation of quantum gravity.

Prof. Djordje Minic

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