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Open Access Publications from the University of California

IceCube-Gen2: The window to the extreme Universe


The observation of electromagnetic radiation from radio to γ-ray wavelengths has provided a wealth of information about the Universe. However, at PeV (1015 eV) energies and above, most of the Universe is impenetrable to photons. New messengers, namely cosmic neutrinos, are needed to explore the most extreme environments of the Universe where black holes, neutron stars, and stellar explosions transform gravitational energy into non-thermal cosmic rays. These energetic particles havemillions of times higher energies than those produced in the most powerful particle accelerators on Earth. As neutrinos can escape from regions otherwise opaque to radiation, they allow an unique view deep into exploding stars and the vicinity of the event horizons of black holes. The discovery of cosmic neutrinos with IceCube has opened this new window on the Universe. IceCube has been successful in finding first evidence for cosmic particle acceleration in the jet of an active galactic nucleus. Yet, ultimately, its sensitivity is too limited to detect even the brightest neutrino sources with high significance, or to detect populations of less luminous sources. In thiswhite paper, we present an overview of a next-generation instrument, IceCube-Gen2, which will sharpen our understanding of the processes and environments that govern the Universe at the highest energies. IceCube-Gen2 is designed to: (a) Resolve the high-energy neutrino sky from TeV to EeV energies (b) Investigate cosmic particle acceleration through multi-messenger observations (c) Reveal the sources and propagation of the highest energy particles in the Universe (d) Probe fundamental physics with high-energy neutrinos IceCube-Gen2 will enhance the existing IceCube detector at the South Pole. It will increase the annual rate of observed cosmic neutrinos by a factor of ten compared to IceCube, and will be able to detect sources five times fainter than its predecessor. Furthermore, through the addition of a radio array, IceCube- Gen2 will extend the energy range by several orders of magnitude compared to IceCube. Construction will take 8 years and cost about $350M. The goal is to have IceCube-Gen2 fully operational by 2033. IceCube-Gen2 will play an essential role in shaping the new era of multimessenger astronomy, fundamentally advancing our knowledge of the highenergy Universe. This challenging mission can be fully addressed only through the combination of the information from the neutrino, electromagnetic, and gravitational wave emission of high-energy sources, in concert with the new survey instruments across the electromagnetic spectrum and gravitational wave detectors which will be available in the coming years.

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