February 2021 – Sloan Research Fellowship for Frank Schröder
Prof. Dr. Frank G. Schröder, Astroparticle physicist and KCETA scientist, has received the Sloan Research Fellowship, one of the most competitive and prestigious awards available to researchers in the U.S. and Canada early in their careers. Winners receive $75,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.
Frank G. Schröder works on the detection of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays, which is done by measuring extended air showers. These are cascades of secondary particles that are created when a high-energy cosmic particle hits our atmosphere. Frank G. Schröder is a pioneer in the detection of these air showers using radio technology. Already in his PhD thesis at KIT from 2008 to 2010, he used this technique at the LOPES experiment.
In his subsequent activities, Schroeder repeatedly made significant contributions to the development of this technique. In particular, Schroeder and colleagues were able to show that digital antenna arrays can increase the accuracy for the mass composition of cosmic rays. This is one of the key parameters for studying possible scenarios for its formation.
While working at several cosmic ray observatories, including the Pierre Auger Observatory and Tunka-Rex, Schroeder has spent most of the last three years focusing on the IceCube neutrino observatory at the South Pole. He hopes to make IceCube's surface array IceTop the most accurate detector of the highest-energy cosmic rays from our own galaxy by adding radio antennas to the particle detectors. Here, KIT has a close collaboration with the University of Delaware, with Professor Schröder working half as a scientist at KIT and half in his faculty position at the University of Delaware.
February 2021 – Open Data Release by the Pierre Auger Observatory
The Pierre Auger Collaboration is releasing 10% of the data recorded using the world’s largest cosmic ray detector. These data are being made available publicly with the expectation that they will be used by a wide and diverse community including professional and citizen-scientists and for educational and outreach initiatives. While the Auger Collaboration has released data in a similar manner for over a decade, the present release is much wider with regard to both the quantity and type of data, making them suitable both for educational purposes and for scientific research.
The release contains not only data, but also algorithms for their analysis. With this, scientific results of the Observatory, some of which were lead by reaseachers from KIT, can be reproduced directly.
"This is a big step for the reproducibility of research results", says Dr. Ralf Ulrich, who developed the public source code for particle physics with cosmic particles together with the IAP PhD student Olena Tkachenko.
11. Februar 2021 – International Day of Women and Girls in Science
In December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established February 11th as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The sponsorship of more than 65 countries and the approval of all Member States to the resolution signals the global community’s interest in transforming our world through achieving gender parity in educational opportunity and scientific participation and preparation.
January 2021 – Rossi Prize awarded to Francis Halzen and the IceCube Collaboration
Congratulations to Francis Halzen and the IceCube Collaboration for being awarded the 2021 Bruno Rossi Prize "for the discovery of a high-energy neutrino flux of astrophysical origin." The prize is awarded annually by the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society.
Francis Halzen, professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), is the Principal Investigator of the IceCube Neutrino Telescope and winner of the KCETA Julius Wess Prize 2017.
The IceCube Collaboration is made up of over 300 researchers from 53 institutions in 12 countries. At our IceCube group at KIT there are currently 26 researchers working mainly on the enhancement of the Observatory with new detectors to make IceCube a multi-messenger observatory, i.e., to measure high-energy cosmic rays and gamma-rays in addition to neutrinos.
"This award is very special because it recognizes IceCube as the collaborative effort that it is," said Halzen. "We appreciate this recognition of our scientific contributions by the astronomy community, which strengthens our resolve to continue the development of IceCube as an optimal tool for multimessenger astronomy."
December 2020 – Dr. Andreas Haungs new APPEC Chair
On December 9, KCETA scientist Dr. Andreas Haungs was elected as the new Chair of the APPEC General Assembly (GA).
APPEC is the European Astroparticle Consortium, consisting of 19 funding agencies, national government institutions, and institutes from 17 European countries responsible for coordinating and funding national research efforts in astroparticle physics.
The GA is the strategic, decision-making, and oversight body of APPEC, responsible for APPEC's overall strategy and processes. Representatives to the GA are appointed by the participating institutions. The representatives are typically the directors of major astroparticle physics institutes or agencies, or heads of major national astroparticle physics programs.
The Chair of the General Assembly is elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term. Dr. Andreas Haungs will take over the chair from Prof. Teresa Montaruli as of January 1, 2021.
Read here an Interview with Andreas Haungs and the new General Secretary Katharina Henjes-Kunst, where they tell us a bit about themselves and about their vision for the future of APPEC.
October 2020 – Successful proposal at the "Future Fields"
Gravitational waves are waves in spacetime caused by accelerated masses, for example when two black holes merge. In order to detect them successfully, it is necessary to separate the influences of the system Earth on the signals from space that are to be detected. This requires, among other things, a close interaction of physics and earth sciences (especially geophysics).
The most advanced earthbound project of the third generation of gravitational wave detectors is the European Einstein Telescope. A contribution to the technological preparation of this major project, which is currently in the planning phase, is the background to this investment.
MoniGrav will address the general problem of monitoring the environmental and operational parameters of the Einstein Telescope. The observables include seismic, geomagnetic field, temperature, acoustics, pressure, humidity and the electrical charge of the atmosphere by cosmic radiation. We aim to develop a multipurpose network of sensors for this monitoring and will test them at the operating Virgo detector.
Partners at MoniGrav are at KIT the GPI (A. Rietbrock), the SCC (A. Streit) and the IAP (A. Haungs, R. Engel), and the European Gravitational Observatory EGO in Cascina near Pisa, Italy.
Prof. Dr. Willem de Boer, 1948 – 2020
It is with great sadness that we have to inform you about the unexpected passing of our dear colleague and friend Prof. Dr. Willem (“Wim”) de Boer on October 13, 2020, at the age of 72.
Please read here our obituary.
The name tells the story
The idea is more than 15 years old, but now it is approved, official and already implemented in all committees: The Institute for Nuclear Physics (IKP) has changed its name to Institute for Astroparticle Physics (IAP). Thus, the IAP now also carries the main direction of research of the largest institute in KCETA in its name.
The Institute for Astroparticle Physics (IAP) investigates fundamental mysteries of nature at the interface of cosmology, astrophysics and elementary particle physics. In collaboration with international research institutions, the IAP conducts basic research in the fields of particle and astroparticle physics. In the Topic Matter and Radiation from the Universe in the Helmholtz program Matter and the Universe, the IAP is dedicated to experimental and theoretical astroparticle physics, especially in the measurement of the neutrino mass with KATRIN and the Tritium Laboratory Karlsruhe (TLK), the search for dark matter with XENONnT and the future project DARWIN, and the exploration of the high-energy universe with the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole.
New Feature found in UHECR Energy Spectrum
September 2020 – The energy spectrum of the highest-energy particles in the Universe, ultra-high energy cosmic rays, has been measured with the Pierre Auger Observatory with an unprecedented precision. In addition to the well-known kink in the energy spectrum, typically referred to as the ankle, a new spectral break is found at somewhat higher energy. This new break in the energy spectrum can be explained by an energy-dependent mass composition of cosmic rays. The results are published in two related papers (Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 121106 (2020) and Phys. Rev. D 102, 062005 (2020)).
This determination of the energy spectrum is unique in having an unprecedented exposure of more than 60,000 km2 sr yr, in its method of determining the spectrum free of assumptions about the mass composition of the initial cosmic ray particle, and about details of the hadronic physics of air showers.
Change at the top of KCETA
At its meeting on 23 September 2020, the KCETA steering committee unanimously elected new spokespersons. As of October 1, Prof. Dr. Anke-Susanne Müller (IBPT) will be the spokesperson of KCETA and thus succeeds Prof. Dr. Marc Weber, who will be head of Division V in the future. Prof. Dr. Margarete Mühlleitner (ITP) will be deputy spokesperson of KCETA and thus succeeds Prof. Dr. Dieter Zeppenfeld.
Johannes Blümer is in well-deserved retirement
Prof. Dr. Johannes Blümer, who has been KIT Head of Division V – Physics and Mathematics for the past five years, has taken his well-deserved retirement at the end of September 2020. As professor at the ETP and head of the IKP (today IAP), Blümer was not only scientific director of KCETA and also KSETA for many years, but was significantly involved in the initiation and establishment of both the KCETA center and the KSETA graduate school.
Due to the corona desease we met for the farewell in a small circle consisting of the current scientific directors of the center and the school, to thank Mr. Blümer for his activities, to exchange some interesting and remarkable anecdotes from the foundation times of KIT, KCETA and KSETA and to hand over a small present in form of a laser printed KCETA glass object.
Mr. Blümer will stay with KIT as a Distinguished Senior Fellow and will certainly keep an eye on the fate and further development of KCETA and KSETA.
September 2020 – Young Scientist Award for Dr. Go Mishima
Dr. Go Mishima, research associate at the IAP, has received the "Particle Physics Medal: Young Scientist Award in Theoretical Particle Physics". This prize is awarded by the particle physics division of the Physical Society of Japan. It honors Dr. Mishima's achievements in connection to a new technique which he developed for the calculation of Feynman integrals with several mass scales. The results are published in the paper "High-Energy Expansion of Two-Loop Massive Four-Point Diagrams," JHEP 1902 (2019) 080.
August 2020 – CORSIKA publication is cited more than 1000 times
Great achievement for the CORSIKA-Team (COsmic Ray SImulation at KArlsruhe):
Until August 2020 the report FZKA 6019 (1998), which describes the CORSIKA simulation program, was cited more than 1000 times in scientific publications. The Harvard Citation Index was used as a basis for the census.
This event was celebrated with a small drink on September 15th in the presence of two of the five authors at Campus North in compliance with COVID19 rules.
August 2020 – Last of 660 Auger Prime SSD Detectors completed at KIT
For more than two years AugerPrime SSD detectors were built at IKP after intensive development. Just recently, the last of the 660 units has been completed at KIT and the final shipments to Argentina are in preparation.
This outstanding achievement is especially due to the untiring commitment of our technicians Günter, Heike, Heiko, Michael and Mo, for which we would like to express our sincere thanks.
This milestone was celebrated on August 28th at Campus North in a relaxed atmosphere and with the appropriate COVID19 distance.
June 2020 – Particle detector for SKA-Low calibrated at IKP
The recent tests were performed at KCETA Institute IKP, which has the facilities and expertise to more precisely measure the performance of the final design. KIT also provided the scintillator material, used in an earlier cosmic-ray experiment called KASCADE.
June 19, 2020 – CMS collaboration submits thousandth publication
On June 19, 2020, the CMS Collaboration reached a historic milestone: the thousandth scientific publication was submitted to a journal. Never before in the history of particle physics has an experiment achieved so many publications. KIT physicists were significantly involved in about 80 of these publications.
Only publications of the entire CMS collaboration in peer-reviewed journals are counted; in addition, there are special technical publications, some of which are published only by the group that built and operates the CMS track detector, and conference proceedings.
The first publication of the CMS Collaboration in 2008 was titled "The CMS experiment at the CERN LHC" and describes the construction of the detector. Since then, about 100 publications have been published every year. The most famous CMS publication deals with the discovery of the Higgs boson. It was published in 2012 and has been cited more than 10000 times in other publications. For almost 25 years, KIT, formerly the Universität Karlsruhe (TH), under the direction of Prof. Müller (Institute for Experimental Particle Physics) together with colleagues Husemann, Quast, and Weber and their working groups have been involved in the construction, operation, and analysis of the CMS experiment. "We expect to double the number of publications in the next ten years and gain deep insights into the nature of the smallest particles," the researchers promise.
A chronological list of all publications of the CMS collaboration can be found here.
All publications with collision data are graphically listed here sorted by topic as a function of the time of submission.
June 17, 2020 – Surprising Signal in the XENON1T Dark Matter Experiment
Scientists from the international XENON collaboration announced today that data from their XENON1T, the world's most sensitive dark matter experiment, show a surprising excess of events. The scientists do not claim to have found dark matter. Instead, they say to have observed an unexpected rate of events, the source of which is not yet fully understood. The signature of the excess is similar to what might result from a tiny residual amount of tritium (super heavy hydrogen), but could also be a sign of something more exciting: the existence of a new particle known as the solar axion or the indication of previously unknown properties of neutrinos... read more in the press release
The KIT team has recently joined the XENON collaboration and participates in the work on XENONnT, as well as in the preparation of the future planned DARWIN observatory.
Prof. Kathrin Valerius, KCETA scientist at the Institute of Nuclear Physics confirms: "The XENON group of the KIT is also very pleased about the impressive sensitivity achieved with XENON1T. It lays the foundation for the even more sensitive XENONnT detector which is currently under construction"
Observation of Excess Electronic Recoil Events in XENON1T, XENON Collaboration
June 14, 2020 – Belle II: World record in the accelerator ring
Tailwind for the search for rare particle decays and exotic phenomena at the Belle II experiment in the KEK laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan: The "SuperKEKB" accelerator ring has achieved the highest luminosity ever measured. The electron-positron accelerator thus beats not only its predecessor KEKB, but also the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. This has now been announced by the Japanese research centre KEK, the operator of the accelerator.
Read all details here (German only)
June 2020 – CMS Detector Award for Dr. Stefan Maier
Dr. Stefan Maier, research associate at ETP, has been one of two scientists to receive the "Detector Award" of the CMS Tracker for the year 2019, for his "[...] outstanding contributions to the upgrade of the Outer Tracker, including development of procedures and systems in 2S module assembly and qualification and the development of a high-rate test stand for the module readout chain." Dr. Maier has built several prototypes of the newly developed dual-layer silicon strip detectors for the CMS Tracker renewal program and has optimized the procedures and tools for this. He has also developed a setup in which LEDs are used to feed electrical pulses at highest rates into the readout electronics. This allows high track densities to be simulated and the modules to be tested under realistic trigger rates. Dr. Maier carried out the work, which was so excellent, as part of his doctorate, which was funded by the KSETA graduate school. "We are very happy with Stefan about this award for his outstanding work at ETP", says project leader and PhD supervisor Prof. Ulrich Husemann.
While the award had already been announced in February, the festive presentation of the award plaque was to take place during the CMS week in April. However, due to the protection rules in connection with the COVID 19 pandemic, the CMS week had to take place online, so that the plaque is now waiting for Dr. Maier at CERN.
June 5, 2020 – CERN Courier: Funky physics at KIT
A new experiment at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) called FUNK – Finding U(1)s of a Novel Kind – has reported its first results in the search for ultralight dark matter. Using a large spherical mirror as an electromagnetic dark-matter antenna, the FUNK team has set an improved limit on the existence of hidden photons as candidates for dark matter with masses in the eV range.
It is the doctoral thesis of KSETA member Arnaud Andrianavalomahefa and partly also the work of Christoph Schäfer. KCETA scientist Dr. Darko Veberic provided strong support and supervision... Read more in the CERN Courier
May 4, 2020 – "Physik in unserer Zeit" writes about KATRIN
After more than 60 years of research on neutrinos, their masses are still unknown. The Karlsruhe tritium neutrino experiment KATRIN is expected to improve the current measurement accuracy by a factor of ten. Last autumn, the facility delivered its first preliminary results and thus already narrowed down the neutrino mass by a factor of two more than before.
The German language physics magazine "Physik in unserer Zeit" in its current issue (Vol. 51/No. 3) dedicated its Cover story to KATRIN, written by Prof. Guido Drexlin (KIT/KCETA), Prof. Christian Weinheimer (University of Münster) and Prof. Kathrin Valerius (KIT/KCETA).
April 14, 2020 – Searching for the Z‘-Boson
The Belle II experiment has been in operation for about a year at the Japanese Research Centre for Particle Physics KEK in Tsukuba, about 50 kilometres north of Tokyo. Here, an international team of researchers with the participation of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is searching for exotic particles that will advance our understanding of dark matter in the universe. For one of these particles, the so-called Z' boson, the mass and strength of its interaction have now been narrowed down with previously unattainable precision. The results have just been published in the renowned scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Research Fellowship for Go Mishima
Dr. Go Mishima, postdoc at IKP, has won a "Research Fellowship for Young Scientists"
of the Japanese science foundation JSPS. It permits him to do three years of research at a university of his choice. He will stay for half a year at KIT and will then move to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.
November 29, 2019 – KATRIN on the Cover of the Physical Review Letters
On November 25, 2006, the main spectrometer of the KATRIN experiment was transported in a spectacular action through Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen to Campus North of KIT.
Exactly thirteen years later, the collaboration published its first results of the neutrinomass measurements. That's worth a place on the cover of the Physics Review Letters!
November 2019 – Kathrin Valerius among the "Young Elite – top 40 under 40"
KCETA scientist Dr. Kathrin Valerius was chosen by the business journal CAPITAL as one of Germany’s “Young Elite - top 40 under 40” in the category science and society. Each year the honors go to the top 40 under 40 from economy, politics, science, and society, who have the potential to influence and shape the future of Germany.
On November 21st, they came together at the “Young Elite Summit” in Berlin to exchange ideas beyond their usual sphere of action and set new impulses for society.
Juli 5, 2019 – Nobel Laureate Shipping 2019
A total of 18 Nobel Prize winners and around 600 young international scientists from 80 countries took part in the trip to the island of Mainau under the motto "Your first step to Stockholm: Baden-Württemberg". On board the "MS Sonnenkönigin", Baden-Württemberg universities and research centres presented current work and results on this year's main topic of physics with a special focus on cosmology, laser physics and gravitational waves.
Dr. Magnus Schlösser presented the KATRIN experiment at KIT. His stand was also visited by Ulrich Steinbach, Ministerial Director and Head of Office in the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg.
July 16, 2019 – IceCube becomes Antarctic Neutrino Laboratory
With the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, which is part of the American Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, convincing evidence of a first source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos was found in 2017. Now the observatory is being upgraded into an international neutrino laboratory with German participation. The IceCube detector will be extended to lower energies in order to measure the properties of neutrinos with unprecedented accuracy. A working group of KCETA is also involved in the upgrade of IceCube.
July 2019 – The two most massive quarks put the spotlight on the Higgs boson
The two heaviest known elementary particles, the top (t) quark and the Higgs (H) boson, are deeply connected. They provide an essential probe of the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics, our best attempt so far at describing the fundamental particles and their interaction, and of hypothetical new physics beyond the SM. In the SM, the strength of the interaction between the Higgs boson and matter particles (quarks and leptons) is proportional to their mass. Since the top quark is the heaviest of all particles, the interaction between the Higgs boson and top quarks is also the strongest. As a result of that top-Higgs interaction, Higgs bosons can be produced in association with top quark pairs (this is called the ttH process and was first confirmed in 2018). Measuring the rate at which this rare process happens in the collisions between protons at the LHC, i.e. the probability that a given collision results in the simultaneous production of a top quark pair and a Higgs boson, is the most direct way to study the top-Higgs interaction. In turn, this tells us a lot about the nature of the Higgs boson and helps us answer questions such as: is the Higgs boson actually elementary? Are there other kinds of Higgs bosons out there? Is the universe stable?
April 18, 2019 – nature: Radio telescope LOFAR looks deep into lightning
What exactly happens when lightning strikes occur is still unclear. Using high-resolution data from the LOFAR radio telescope, an international team of researchers has now discovered needle-shaped structures that could bring light into the discharge processes. Important foundations for the measurement of flashes with the world's largest antenna array were laid at the KIT. What lies behind the previously unknown needles has now been published in the journal "nature".
When ice crystals collide in a thunderstorm cloud, they charge electrically. Winds can separate the crystals, so that one part of the cloud is positively charged, the other negatively. If the resulting electric field becomes too large, a violent discharge occurs, which we perceive as lightning and thunder. The discharge begins with a small volume of air in which electrons separate from the air molecules. This ionized air, also called plasma, is electrically conductive. The plasma spreads out as branched channels until it hits the earth and the electrical voltage of the clouds discharges as lightning. The exact processes in these channels up to the recent discovery of the "lightning needles" are revealed by high-resolution data derived from radio signals of lightning, measured with the Dutch radio telescope LOFAR (Low Frequency Array), in which the KIT participates.
"Thanks to the high spatial and temporal resolution of LOFAR, we can investigate the formation of flashes in a completely new order of magnitude, right down to the primary processes," explains Dr. Brian Hare from the University of Groningen and first author of the publication in the journal "Nature". LOFAR consists of thousands of antennas spread across Europe - an array primarily developed for astronomical observations, but now also used to measure cosmic rays. The signals triggered by the cosmic particles in the atmosphere are buffered at the individual antennas and then read out for various analyses. "This technology, which is being advanced at KIT, is now also being used to measure and store radio signals emitted by lightning," explains KCETA-scientist Dr. Tim Huege from the Institute of Nuclear Physics at KIT and a member of the "LOFAR Cosmic Ray Key Science Project".
3-D animations of lightning development in radio light
Credits: Stijn Buitink (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Brian Hare (University of Groningen)
Slow motion of a developing lightning, which in reality lasts 0.2 seconds and spans about 5 kilometres in all directions. The yellow dots show current radio signals, the white dots the past ones for illustration.
Close-up of a plasma channel that in reality lasts 0.1 seconds and spans 400 meters. One of the newly discovered needle-shaped structures is marked in red.
Brian Hare, Olaf Scholten et al. Needle-like structures discovered on positively charged lightning branches. Nature, 18 April 2019, https://www.nature.com, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1086-6.
March 2019 – Installation of the first antenna for the AugerPrime Radio Upgrade
Young scientists cheer after installing the first antenna for the AugerPrime radio upgrade!
Also on site: KSETA PhD student and member of the Helmholtz International Research School (HIRSAP) Felix Schlüter (second from left).
The radio upgrade, which is part of the AugerPrime upgrade, is a very important part of the future research of the Pierre Auger Observatory by adding array-based composition sensitivity for large zenith angles, for which the scintillator upgrade is not effective. Having good composition-sensitive information up to very large zenith angles is crucial for composition-improved anisotropy studies and adds to the overall aperture of the observatory.
January 2019 – KASCADE goes Outback
A trial detector for studying cosmic rays has been set up alongside the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia. This 'proof of concept' detector is the first step in developing a set of detectors for the low-frequency Square Kilometre Array (SKA1-low) telescope, which is to be built at the MRO. In the longer term, these kinds of detectors will be used to trigger the MWA to capture the radio pulse associated with an incoming cosmic ray, a synergy of radio astronomy with astroparticle physics. The used particle detector is based on a donation from the dismantled cosmic ray experiment KASCADE at KIT.