Home Events Colloquium: “Ghosts from Dying Stars: Using Neutrinos to Probe Supernovae and Beyond”

Colloquium: “Ghosts from Dying Stars: Using Neutrinos to Probe Supernovae and Beyond”

Mr. Samuel Flynn
WFU Alum and NCSU Graduate Student
Theoretical Nuclear & Particle Physics
NC State University
Raleigh, NC
George P. Williams, Jr. Lecture Hall, (Olin 101)
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 3:00 PM

There will be a reception in the Olin Lounge at approximately 4 PM following the colloquium. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend.


In a final act of splendor, some dying stars explode in one of the universe’s most dramatic and terrific displays; a core collapse supernova (CCSN). Despite emitting enormous amounts of light, 99% of the star’s binding energy is carried away in the form of nature’s lightest particles; the neutrinos, whose curious property of oscillating between their three “flavors” can be used to determine properties of the newly created neutron star, determine environmental conditions important for nucleosynthesis, improve our simulations of CCSNs, and possibly even constrain yet-to-be-determined neutrino parameters. This “neutrino astronomy” required a strong theoretical understanding of how the oscillations are impacted by the conditions of the CSSN. Of particular importance for improving supernova simulations is the determination of the conditions and effects of “fast flavor oscillations”; sudden instabilities which can cause almost immediate flavor change far below the shock, potentially altering the dynamics of the explosion. CCSNs also offer an opportunity to further constrain the strength of the neutrino couplings to matter, as changing these interactions can cause novel oscillation behaviors which affect the neutrino signals seen on Earth. In this talk, I will introduce the basics of neutrino oscillations, explore the unique types of oscillation behavior which can occur only in astrophysical conditions, and explain how these effects can be used to probe supernovae. I will then discuss my current work investigating the conditions necessary for fast flavor oscillation and simulating neutrino signals with non-standard model neutrino-matter interactions.

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Feb 12 2020


3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Olin 101
Olin Physical Laboratory, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27109