BB.20.003 – An underwater acoustic sensor network for astrophysics and marine sciences

Route: Building blocks of matter and fundaments of space and time

Cluster question: 127 What are the origins, history, and future of the universe?

One of the largest scientific challenges in astro-particle physics is the observation of cosmic neutrinos with ultra-high energies. Detecting these ultra-high energy neutrinos would provide us with a first glimpse of our universe in an energy regime that no one has yet been able to explore. As the expected flux of these messenger particles is very small it requires an observatory at the scale of several tens of kilometers across, which is only attainable using an experimental strategy that is different from those used by conventional experiments: sound instead of light. The idea is to use sensitive hydrophones to measure the thermoacoustic signals that are produced when high energetic cosmic ray particles deposit energy in water. This project’s aim is to construct an exploratory network towards such a deepsea acoustic observatory, based on new optical fiber hydrophones technology. Not only will it demonstrate the feasibility of such an acoustic detection array, thereby serving as stepping stone towards the ultimate acoustic neutrino detection experiment, but it will also provide a wealth of opportunities for research in related sciences, such as marine biology and oceanography: tracking marine mammals and characterizing ocean environment over a large area to name a few. And as detection of acoustic signals from neutrino interactions requires detailed knowledge from marine related sciences, progress in all fields go hand in hand. This pathfinder acoustic telescope will be a game-changer as it will allow to equip large (volumes) and distributed sensor networks that looked out of reach until now.


Astrophysics, fiber optics, marine biology, oceanography

Other organisations



Organisation TNO
Name Dr. Ernst-Jan Buis