“The HAWC Observatory: Detecting the Highest Energy Gamma-Rays”

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 4:15pm
428 Pupin Hall

Brenda Dingus

Los Alamos National Laboratory

“The HAWC Observatory:  Detecting the Highest Energy Gamma-Rays”

The High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) is a continuously operating (>95% on-time), wide field-of-view (~2 sr) observatory located at 14000’ above sea level in Puebla, Mexico. HAWC observes ~2/3 of the sky each day and has produced a map from the first year and a half of operations with ~ 40 sources of which about one quarter were previously unknown. Several of these sources have emission > 50 TeV. Most of the sources are within the Galactic plane; however, the two active galactic nuclei Mrk 421 and Mrk 501 are also strongly detected and are observed to be variable. Within the region surveyed by HAWC are many dark matter rich objects, such as dwarf spheroidal galaxies, and these HAWC data place the strongest constraints to date on annihilating or decaying dark matter with masses >10 TeV. The Crab nebula is detected in this map at > 100 σ and is each day ~ 5σ. The HAWC data are searched in real time for transient sources. HAWC monitors the same sky as gamma-ray satellites (Fermi), gravity-wave (LIGO) detectors and neutrino observatories (IceCube) allowing for multi-wavelength and multi-messenger observations.

About the speaker

Dr. Brenda Dingus is the Principal Investigator of the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) TeV gamma-ray observatory for the DOE High Energy Physics program.  She was the first US Spokesperson of HAWC from 2010-2014 and was the Deputy Project Manager during construction from 2011-2015.  She is now the Operations manager.  HAWC is the most sensitive, wide field of view,TeV gamma-ray and cosmic-ray detector and the science goals of HAWC include searching for evidence of new physics in the TeV sky, such as gamma-rays from the annihilation or decay of dark matter.

Dr. Dingus is a Fellow at the Lab and a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and was a winner of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2000.  Prior to coming to Los Alamos in 2002 she was a tenured professor first at the University of Utah and then at the University of Wisconsin.  She has served on various advisory committees, such as the NASA Astrophysics Subcommittee, and has been elected as a member of the executive committees of the Division of Astrophysics of the APS and the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society.