Tyce DeYoung, associate professor in NatSci’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, conducts research in particle astrophysics—the observation of high energy particles from space, with the twin goals of understanding how and where they are produced and better understanding the fundamental properties of the particles themselves. He plays a leading role in the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a billion-ton detector of nearly massless subatomic particles called neutrinos located beneath the South Pole. IceCube is designed to probe the most violent astrophysical sources in the Universe: events like exploding stars, gamma-ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars.
The MSU IceCube research group includes several undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral research associates as well as DeYoung and physics and astronomy Assistant Professor Kendall Mahn. With nearly half a million of these ghostly particles detected so far, IceCube provides the world's largest neutrino data set, and the MSU group focuses on using this data to measure fundamental properties. Neutrinos come in three types, and quantum mechanical effects cause them to "oscillate" between types as they travel through space. Precision measurements of these oscillations allow for determining important parameters of neutrinos which may shed light on the fundamental structure of matter.