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Gary Finnegan Thesis Defense 08/22/12

Thesis Defense

Gary Finnegan

Monday, August 22, 2012
2:00pm (110 INSCC)

Title: High Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy Observations Of Geminga With The VERITAS Array


The closest known super-nova remnant and pulsar is Geminga. The Geminga pulsar is the first pulsar to have ever been detected initially by gamma rays and the first pulsar in a class of radio-quiet pulsars. In 2007 a detection of very high energy gamma rays (∼ 20 TeV), that are positionally coincident with Geminga, was reported by the Milagro collaboration, with a large angularly extended emission (∼ 2.6° ). The Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) is a ground- based observatory with four imaging Cherenkov telescopes with an energy range between 100 GeV to more than 30 TeV. The imaging Cherenkov telescopes detect the Cherenkov light from charged particles in an electromagnetic air shower initiated by high energy particles such as gamma rays and cosmic rays. The field of view (FOV) of the VERITAS telescopes is approximately 3.5°. Most gamma-ray sources detected by VERITAS are point like sources, which have an angular extension smaller than the resolution of the telescopes (∼ 0.1°). For an angularly extended object, such as Geminga, an external FOV from the source must be used to estimate the background noise to avoid contamination from the source itself. In this dissertation, I will describe a new analysis procedure that is designed to increase the sensitivity of angularly extended objects like Geminga. I will present the results of my analysis, which conclude with the detection of very high energy emission from the Geminga region at the level of a few percent of the Crab nebula and a possible extension less than one degree wide. This detection however awaits a confirmation by the VERITAS collaboration. To conclude, I will present the implications of the detection of Geminga.


[1] G. Finnegan for the VERITAS Collaboration, ”Orbit Mode Observation Technique Developed for VERITAS”, Proceedings of the 2011 Fermi Symposium, arXiv:1111.0121v1 (Nov 2011).

[2] G. Finnegan for the VERITAS Collaboration, “Search for TeV Emission from Geminga by VERITAS”, Proceeding of the 31st ICRC, arXiv:0907.5237v3 (July 2009).

[3] V.A. Acciari, et al, “Observation of Extended Very High Energy Emission from the Supernova Remnant 1C443 with VERITAS”, Astrophysical Journal Letters 698, L133 (2009).


Utah Physicists Invent ‘Spintronic’ LED

A new “spintronic” organic light-emitting diode glows orangish (center) when the device, chilled well below freezing, is exposed to a magnetic field from the two poles of an electromagnet located on either side of the device. University of Utah physicists report inventing the new kind of LED in the July 13 issue of the journal Science. Credit: Tho Nguyen, University of Utah. Click to enlarge.

New Technology Promises Brighter TV & Computer Displays

Full press release here

July 12, 2012 – University of Utah physicists invented a new “spintronic” organic light-emitting diode or OLED that promises to be brighter, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the kinds of LEDs now used in television and computer displays, lighting, traffic lights and numerous electronic devices.

“It’s a completely different technology,” says Z. Valy Vardeny, University of Utah distinguished professor of physics and senior author of a study of the new OLEDs in the July 13, 2012 issue of the journal Science. “These new organic LEDs can be brighter than regular organic LEDs.” The Utah physicists made a prototype of the new kind of LED – known technically as a spin-polarized organic LED or spin OLED – that produces an orange color. But Vardeny expects it will be possible within two years to use the new technology to produce red and blue as well, and he eventually expects to make white spin OLEDs.

However, it could be five years before the new LEDs hit the market because right now, they operate at temperatures no warmer than about minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and must be improved so they can run at room temperature, Vardeny adds. Vardeny developed the new kind of LED with Tho D. Nguyen, a research assistant professor of physics and first author of the study, and Eitan Ehrenfreund, a physicist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Israel Science Foundation and U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation. The research was part of the University of Utah’s new Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative.


MRSEC Paper Published in Nature Communications

Prof. Christoph Boehme, along with Prof. John Lupton, students Will Baker, Kapildeb Ambal, David Waters, Rachel Baarda, Hiroki Morishita, Kipp van Schooten, and former alumnus Dane McCamey, have recently published a paper in Nature Communications, "Robust Absolute Magnetometry with Organic Thin-Film Devices" (doi:10.1038/ncomms1895) regarding a low cost high sensitivity organic spintronic magnetic sensor. This is one of the first `high-visibility' products of the new NSF funded Materials Research Science & Engineering Center (MRSEC).


Magnetic field sensors based on organic thin-film materials have attracted considerable interest in recent years as they can be manufactured at very low cost and on flexible substrates. However, the technological relevance of such magnetoresistive sensors is limited owing to their narrow magnetic field ranges (~30 mT) and the continuous calibration required to compensate temperature fluctuations and material degradation. Conversely, magnetic resonance (MR)-based sensors, which utilize fundamental physical relationships for extremely precise measurements of fields, are usually large and expensive. Here we demonstrate an organic magnetic resonance-based magnetometer, employing spin-dependent electronic transitions in an organic diode, which combines the low-cost thin-film fabrication and integration properties of organic electronics with the precision of a MR-based sensor. We show that the device never requires calibration, operates over large temperature and magnetic field ranges, is robust against materials degradation and allows for absolute sensitivities of <50 nT Hz−1/2.

Full paper available here.


Astronomy Lab Getting a Whole New Look

The Department of Physics & Astronomy has received $103,000 in campus Capital Facilities & Remodeling funds to renovate the 4th floor astronomy lab in the South Physics building. The new facility will house education and public outreach activities for the South Physics Observatory, handle analysis of the data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III, and serve as the control room for the Willard. L. Eccles Observatory at Frisco Peak, Utah.


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