Nathan Whitehorn

Assistant Professor
Astronomy & Astrophysics, Astroparticle Physics, EEP
Office: Knudsen 4-107B
Phone: 310-206-4548

Educational Background

PhD in Physics, University of Wisconsin - Madison (2012)
BA in Physics, University of Chicago (2007)

Research Interest

My interests lie at the intersection of elementary particle physics and astrophysics. Over the last century, particle physics experiments have gotten bigger and bigger and we are now able to probe the smallest scale and highest-energy physics using the largest detector in the the world: the Universe. And, at the same time that we can study the universe to learn about particle physics, particles sent to us from the universe's distant corners can also teach us a great deal about their origins.

My current projects involve astrophysics, neutrinos, and the South Pole. We have recently (2018) begun data taking with the 3rd-generation South Pole Telescope, the highest-angular-resolution instrument in the world for measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). This will provide an unprecedented view of the early universe and its evolution into our present-day surroundings over the last 13 billion years, revealing a great deal about the universe's origins, dark matter, dark energy, and the properties of neutrinos -- and possibly other light particles so far undiscovered. My work here involves instrumentation for this and future projects, as well as data analysis.

Another focus is the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, built to discover the origin of high-energy cosmic rays by looking for accompanying neutrino emission. The detector, completed in 2010, instruments a cubic kilometer of the Antarctic ice sheet with optical sensors to form the world's largest neutrino detector, sensitive at TeV-PeV energies. My work has focused on detection of the diffuse neutrino background and moving beyond that to discovery of the first neutrino sources. This has focused in particular on improving the performance of the instrument, leading directly to the first of these discoveries.

Selected Publications

  • "Observation of High-Energy Astrophysical Neutrinos in Three Years of IceCube Data", Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 101101, 2014 (arXiv:1405.5303).
  • "Evidence for High-Energy Extraterrestrial Neutrinos at the IceCube Detector", Science 342, 1242856 (2013) (arXiv:1311.5238).
  • "Multi-messenger observations of a flaring blazar coincident with high-energy neutrino IceCube-170922A", Science 361 6398, eaat1378, 2018 (arXiv:1807.08816)
  • "Neutrino emission from the direction of the blazar TXS 0506+056 prior to the IceCube-170922A alert", Science 361, 6398, 147-151, 2018 (arXiv:1807.08794)
  • "Measurements of Sub-degree B-mode Polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background from 100 Square Degrees of SPTpol Data", Astrophysical Journal 807, 151, 2015 (arXiv:1503.02315).
  • "CMB-S4 Science Book, First Edition", 2016 (arXiv:1610.02743).
  • "Millimeter Transient Point Sources in the SPTpol 100 Square Degree Survey", Astrophysical Journal 830, 143 (2016) (arXiv:1604.03507).
  • "An Absence of Neutrinos Associated with Cosmic Ray Acceleration in Gamma-Ray Bursts", Nature 484, 351-354, 2012 (arXiv:1204.4219).
  • "Energy Reconstruction Methods in the IceCube Neutrino Telescope", Journal of Instrumentation 9, P03009, 2014 (arXiv:1311.4767).
  • "ICE: a scalable, low-cost FPGA-based telescope signal processing and networking system", Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation 5, 1641005, 2016.