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Canterbury researchers join South Pole project

Canterbury researchers join South Pole project

Canterbury University researchers have been asked to join the IceCube telescope collaboration, a huge scientific project in Antarctica boasting US$295 million in funding, which is seeking answers to questions about phenomena like black holes and neutron stars.

The project aims to build a neutrino telescope at the South Pole over the next ten years. The telescope, IceCube, will peer through the earth to open a new window on to the universe.

According to senior lecturer in physics and member of the Canterbury team Dr Jenni Adams, IceCube will search for neutrinos (elementary particles) from the most violent astrophysical sources: events like exploding stars, gamma ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars.

“The IceCube telescope is a powerful tool to search for dark matter, and could reveal the new physical processes associated with the puzzling origins of the highest energy particles in nature.”

Dr Adams says that Canterbury researchers are already working on a radio neutrino telescope called RICE which is a much smaller operation.

“We will continue working on this experiment and are hoping to deploy radio detectors with the main IceCube detectors. We will also bring expertise in simulations of high energy particles to the collaboration and will help with logistical support.”

The IceCube collaboration is comprised of research groups in physics and astronomy from 25 universities and government laboratories around the world. Canterbury is the first institution to be admitted since the US$295 million funding was confirmed.

“Our admission into the collaboration is a compliment to the work that we are currently doing here. Although we are the newest member our location in Christchurch, the gateway to Antarctica, puts us directly in the centre of the action.”

Members of the Canterbury group are: Dr Adams, Dr Stephen Churchwell (lecturer), Suruj Seunarine (research assistant), Pauline Harris (Ph D student), Anthony Bard (M Sc. Student), Robyn Sullivan (M Sc student) and Philip Wahrlich (M Sc student)

More information on RICE and IceCube is available on the Canterbury University Physics Department’s website at http:// or the IceCube website at mailto:

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