Academic Year 2022/2023 - Teacher: Alessia Rita TRICOMI

Expected Learning Outcomes

The course is aimed to introduce the students to the fundamental concepts of astroparticle physics. Both experimental and phenomenological aspects will be treated. The link between particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology will be critically analysed. The student will understand the importance to investigate different messengers (neutrinos, cosmic rays, gamma rays) to achieve a global view of our universe and to understand its evolution. The student will acquire a critical knowledge about the most important and up-to-date topics in the field like the origin of dark matter and dark energy, the properties of neutrinos and cosmic rays, as well as the most innovative detection techniques.

Course Structure

The course is based on lectures. If available, a visit to a lab is also foreseen.

Should the circumstances require online or blended teaching, appropriate modifications to what is hereby stated may be introduced, in order to achieve the main objectives of the course.

Required Prerequisites

No compulsory prerequisites are required but the courses "Advanced Quantum Mechanics", "Nuclear and Particle Physics", "General Relativity" are recommended.

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance to the course is usually compulsory (consult the Academic Regulations of the Course of Studies)

Detailed Course Content

Main arguments:

Cosmic Ray Physics: properties and experimental techniques

Neutrinos: properties and experimental techniques

Dark Matter: properties and direct and indirect searches

Dark Energies: properties and experimental searches.

 Detailed program:

  • Remind of  elementary particles and their interactions: leptons, quarks, gluons, photons, W+, W-, Z0, strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions. The Standard Model of electroweak interactions.
  • The complementarity of Cosmic Ray Physics and accelerator elementary particle Physics.
  • Differential flux, spectrum and composition of primary Cosmic Rays. Primary Cosmic Rays and Extensive Air Showers.
  • Brief introduction on Galaxy morphology.
  • Cosmic Ray acceleration. Astrophysics and galactic Cosmic Ray sources. The Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin cut-off. The equation of transport and propagation of Cosmic Ray in the atmosphere. The development of showers in the atmosphere (EAS).
  • Detection technique and measurement of primary Cosmic Ray properties for energies up >1022 eV: detection of protons, photons, heavy nuclei, muons, neutrinos and extensive air showers.
  • Gamma astronomy.
  • Neutrino interactions and the electroweak theory.
  • Dirac and Majorana neutrinos.
  • Neutrino oscillation. Solar and atmospheric neutrico osciallation and properties. See-Saw mechanism.
  • Neutrino experiment and detection techniques.
  • Brief introduction to Cosmology. The story of the Universe. Big Bang Nucleosynthesis.
  • Cosmic Microwave Background.
  • Dark matter: cold and hot dark matter. Candidates for DM.
  • Beyond the Standard Model Physics. Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model. Weakly Interactive Massive Particles.
  • Direct and Indirect Searches for Dark Matter.
  • Dark Energy: experimental evidence.
  • Experiments for the search of Dark Energy. SNIA. Hubble Diagram. Barionic Acoustic Oscillations.
  • Latest results of the Planck satellite.

Textbook Information

The course is mainly based on summary papers and slides provided during the lectures

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Review of the elementary constituents of matter and their interactions: quarks, leptons, gluons, photons, W +, W-, Z0, strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions. The Standard Model of electroweak interactions
2• Complementarity between the study of Cosmic Rays and the study of elementary particles and their interactions with accelerators.
3• Differential flow, spectrum and composition of primary Cosmic Rays. Primary and secondary Cosmic Rays.
4• Notes on the morphology of the Galaxy
5• Acceleration mechanisms of cosmic rays.
6Astrophysical and galactic sources of cosmic rays.
7Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin cut-off
8Transport equations of primary and secondary cosmic rays in the atmosphere
9Development of EAS in the atmosphere
10• Methods of observation / study of primary Cosmic Ray flows in space, in the atmosphere, on the Earth for energies up to 10^22 eV: detection of protons, photons, heavy nuclei, muons, neutrinos, extended swarms
11• Gamma astronomy
12•Neutrino interaction properties, recall on the development of the theory of weak interactions and of the standard model of electro-weak interactions. Semileptonic and purely lepton interactions of neutrinos.
13• Dirac and Majorana neutrinos.
14• Neutrino Oscillations. Study of "neutrino oscillations": solar neutrinos, solar neutrino spectrum, atmospheric neutrinos. See-Saw mechanism.
15• Experiments with neutrinos and detection techniques.
16• Outlines of cosmology. Evolution of the Universe. Big Bang Nucleosynthesis.
17• Cosmic Microwave Background.
18• Dark matter and energy. Possible sources of dark matter. Cold and Hot Dark Matter.
19• Physics beyond the Standard Model. Minimal super-symmetrical model. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles
20• Direct and indirect experiments for the search of Dark Matter.
21• Experiments for the research of Dark Energy. SNIA. Hubble diagram. Barionic Acoustic Oscillations.
22• Results of the Planck experiment.


Learning Assessment Procedures

Learning evaluation methods and criteria: the exam will focus on an oral test aimed at verifying the student's critical abilities to deal with the phenomenological and experimental problems of astroparticle physics. The ability and clarity of presentation, the ability to frame the required topic in a general context and the ability to use the physical and calculation tools learned will be verified.

Verification of learning can also be carried out electronically, should the conditions require it.

Criteria for awarding the final grade: the final grade will arise from the outcome of the oral exam in which the greatest weight will be given to the critical skills shown by the student.

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

The questions below are not an exhaustive list but are just a few examples

Cosmic ray spectrum

Fermi acceleration mechanism

Evidence of DM