Neutrinos From Milky Way Will Help Map Our Galaxy; Energy 101 from Home to On The Road

“Wednesday Nite @ The Lab” Public Science Talks

Wednesdays at 7pm CT

Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison WI, or Zoom at or Stream at

For Wednesday 5 July 2023

Hi WN@TL Fans,

How we see our world, how we understand our university, depends in part on the spectrum of the light we can perceive.  For example, birds can see UV wavelengths we can’t.  Snakes can visualize infra-red, but with receptors other than their eyes.

Astronomers have developed the keenest vision I know of.  They have built a range of telescope devices that let them perceive across the electromagnetic spectrum, from high-frequency gamma rays to X-rays, ultraviolet, visible, infrared, microwave and on to long-wavelength radio waves.  Different wavelengths give different images with different insights.

A telescope such as IceCube that sees neutrinos is another kind of beast, one blessed with seeing a particle that is a straight-shooter, a particle that is unfazed, unrefracted and not deflected by magnetic fields.  If a galaxy emits neutrinos, then a compilation of those neutrinos detected over time can, like so many stipples in a comic strip, start to give us a whole ‘nuther view of that galaxy.

NY Times 29 June 2023

This week we get to hear how IceCube will be giving us a new kind of acuity of our own Milky Way.  It’s not every Wednesday that we get to hear the backstory on research that made it into the NY Times the previous Thursday.  You get to this week.  And I think I’m not overstating it to say that you’ll get to see some astrophysical fireworks on July 5.


Title:  “IceCube Detection of Neutrinos from a Galaxy Near, Near By” with Justin Vandenbroucke of the Department of Physics.

Description:  The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is a detector monitoring a billion tons of ice at the South Pole for energetic signals from across the cosmos.  Led by the University of Wisconsin – Madison, it detects neutrinos, which are nearly massless subatomic particles that can travel large distances straight through matter.  Because of this, neutrinos serve as super X-rays, carrying new information that is complementary to astronomy done with any type of photons or electromagnetic waves.

IceCube has previously detected neutrinos from distant galaxies powered by giant black holes. We have now detected neutrinos from our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. I will describe how IceCube works and what it has unveiled so far about both the distant Universe and our own cosmic neighborhood.

Bio:  I have been a professor at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC), in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, with a joint appiontment in the Astronomy Department, since 2013.  During 2012-2013 I was a NASA Einstein Fellow at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory).  From 2009-2012 I was a Kavli Fellow at KIPAC. I received my PhD in Physics from UC Berkeley in 2009.

My research interests include multi-messenger astrophysics, gamma-ray astronomy, neutrino astronomy, and cosmic-ray science. My group and I work on both data analysis and instrumentation development. Members of my group and I work on the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and the Distributed Electronic Cosmic-ray Observatory (DECO). Between 2019 and 2022 I served as co-lead of the IceCube Neutrino Sources working group, the largest data analysis working group of the IceCube Collaboration.

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On July 12 Andrea Strzelec of the College of Engineering will provide her insights into ways to look at the interplay between energy & power and how these help us to make decisions on how we fuel our cars, light up our factories and offices, keep our homes comfortable, and reduce our environmental impacts.

Description:  Energy is everywhere! While we use it everyday, few of us can probably actually come up with a good definition for energy. Additionally, we learn about the Law of Conservation of Energy – but then why do we have conservation campaigns? If energy is conserved, why do parents need to constantly remind kids to turn off lights when they leave a room?? What is the difference between “energy” and “power”? What about “entropy”? how does that matter for energy transfer and use? These are the energy terms we need to understand in order to make wise decisions about energy use and public policy – so let’s dive in to energy!

Bio:  Dr. Andrea Strzelec the Program Director for and faculty in the Master of Engineering in Engine Systems online degree program in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also appointed as an Associate Research Scientist in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear & Engineering Physics.  Andrea’s research interests are in energy!!! Specifically, she studies the release of energy via combustion, exhaust aftertreatment, and sustainable fuels. She is the PI of a $3M DOE award on these topics. She is the current Chair for Energy & Propulsion Activity for the Society of Automotive Engineers and was elected Fellow in 2022. She is a passionate advocate for science outreach – specifically for thermodynamic and life cycle analysis of transportation energy.

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Hope to see you soon — in person, by YouTube livestream or by Zoom — at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom ZinnenBiotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H