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Melzie Ghendrih

Physics & Astronomy

Year of study:


Anticipating the explosion of massive stars: Pre-Supernova neutrino detection at Super-Kamiokande


Supernova (SN) explosions are ultra-energetic transient astronomical events. The most massive stars—at least 8 times greater than our Sun—see their life end with the collapse of their core as it runs out of fuel, causing a Core-Collapse Supernova (CCSN). The vast majority of this energy is released through neutrinos, elementary particles which only weakly interact with matter. Neutrinos produced during a CCSN have only been detected once, during SN 1987A.
Neutrino production inside evolved massive stars increases towards the end of their life, during the pre-Supernova (pre-SN) phase, as does the average neutrino energy. Improving the sensitivity of neutrino detectors at Earth and lowering their energy threshold for detection would allow these neutrinos to be detected and consequently, nearby pre-SN stars. These neutrinos can then be used as an early warning system for CCSN, as probes into the structure and composition of pre-SN stars, or towards bettering our understanding of neutrino physics.
This project's aim is to optimise the current pre-SN alarm at the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector in Japan, modelling the expected neutrino flux for different pre-SN models.


Now in the final year of my Physics and Astronomy degree, I often find myself at a loss of what I will be up to next year. It is only looking back at these past five years studying at the University of Glasgow that I remember what got me the most excited throughout. Discovering new things through my labs and projects. Looking up obscure phenomena. Sharing what I have learned with the people around me. I hope to get you as excited as I am about exploding stars, tiny particles, and a 50-kiloton bucket of water!

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