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Second cycle
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School of Science
Course unit
SCP7081762, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2018/19

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
SC2382, Degree course structure A.Y. 2017/18, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination MULTIMESSENGER ASTROPHYSICS
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Physics and Astronomy
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction English
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge ELISA BERNARDINI FIS/01

Course unit code Course unit name Teacher in charge Degree course code

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines FIS/01 Experimental Physics 6.0

Course unit organization
Period Second semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 48 102.0 No turn

Start of activities 02/03/2020
End of activities 12/06/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2017 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
1 Commissione Multimessenger Astrophysics 2019/2020 01/10/2019 30/11/2020 BERNARDINI ELISA (Presidente)
TUROLLA ROBERTO (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: This course is addressed to students with basic knowledge of elementary particles and their interactions and nuclear physics.
Target skills and knowledge: This course is an introduction to “multi-messenger” astrophysics, from a mostly experimental perspective. It covers different aspects connecting particle physics with astrophysics and cosmology. Numerous experimental findings recently obtained through the study of high-energy particles will be illustrated.

Topics include:
* particles' interactions in matter and interactions of astroparticles
* cosmic rays and their interactions
* acceleration of cosmic rays
* propagation of cosmic rays through the galaxy and in extragalactic environments
* interactions of cosmic rays in the atmosphere and production of secondary particles
* direct and indirect measurements of cosmic rays
* cosmic rays at the most extreme energies (UHECR) and their propagation
* cosmogenic radiation and neutrinos
* candidate sources of cosmic rays
* multi-messenger approach: combining information from different types of particles and waves
* gamma-ray astrophysics
* multi-wavelength observations of astrophysical sources
* neutrino astrophysics
* gravitational waves
Examination methods: Oral examination.
Assessment criteria: 1- Capability to solve problems and exercises regarding topics treated in the lectures.
2- Reasoning ability on topics treated in the lectures.
Course unit contents: The term "multi-messenger" is quite new and increasingly used in astronomy and astroparticle physics. It refers to combining information from different types of particles and waves to gain a deeper understanding of the astrophysical objects we observe in the sky.

Visible light only reveals a very small portion of the mysteries of the Universe. Astronomical observations are nowadays routinely performed with different telescopes across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves through visible light, all the way to gamma-rays. At the highest energies, the most violent processes in the Universe are at work. Whatever produces high energy gamma-rays, is expected to accelerate particles to energies that exceed the capabilities of man-made accelerators a billion times. Such particles can reach the Earth as cosmic rays, first discovered more than 100 years ago, still nowadays one of the most mysterious "messages" from our Universe.
Cosmic rays may interact in the vicinity or their sources or even along their way to Earth, to produce elusive particles called neutrinos and gamma-rays. While cosmic rays are deflected during their journey by intergalactic magnetic fields, neutrinos and photons, being neutral particles, keep memory of their source's direction. Their trajectory becomes thus crucial to unravel the origin of cosmic rays.
Neutrinos are extremely difficult to detect. Kubic-kilometer detectors are necessary to observe neutrinos at energies larger than few tens of GeV. The year 2013 witnessed the first clear observation of neutrinos from distant astrophysical objects by the IceCube detector at the South Pole, opening a new observational window to the Universe.
The most extreme astrophysical objects, connected with the most violent phenomena in our Universe, are often associated with black holes or neutron stars. Whenever two such compact objects orbit around each other, they are expected to produce gravitational waves. The year 2015 witnessed the first direct observation of gravitational waves emitted by two merging black-holes (GW150914), measured by the LIGO detectors in the USA. The discovery was celebrated by the Nobel-prize for physics.
The year 2017 witness the triumph of multi-messenger astrophysics with the first identification of a source of cosmic neutrinos, the blazar TXS 0506+056, helped by the electromagnetic observations that followed the detection of a high energy neutrino (iceCube-170922A). This event happened just few days after another success of multi-messenger astrophysics: the detection of gravitational waves from two merging neutron stars (GW170817), followed by a burst of gamma-rays (GRB 170817A).
Both results greatly demonstrate the potential of multi-messenger astrophysics in observing and understanding the most extreme and mysterious phenomena in our Universe.
This course will illustrate its foundations.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Frontal lectures and exercises.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Those books listed below will be mostly used.
Additional material (experimental results in graphic form, summary material in PDF format) will be shared with the students during the lectures.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Spurio, Maurizio, The Probes of Multimessenger Astrophysics. --: Springer, 2019. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Perkins, Donald H., Particle astrophysicsD.H. Perkins. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Cerca nel catalogo
  • De_Angelis, Alessandro; Pimenta, Mário João Martins, Introduction to particle and astroparticle physicsmultimessenger astronomy and its particle physics foundationsAlessandro De Angelis, Mario Pimenta. Cham: Springer, 2018. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Longair, Malcolm S., High energy astrophysicsMalcolm S. Longair. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Cerca nel catalogo