The American Astronomical Society highlights a study on underwater 'hunting' of neutrinos
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The American Astronomical Society highlights a study on underwater ‘hunting’ of neutrinos

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has highlighted on its website an investigation that analyzes nine years of data collection on cosmic neutrinos (very small particles, virtually massless and traveling at high speeds through space) from the submarine telescope ANTARES, which it detects them when they interact in the rock of the seabed or in the water.

The work, published in the journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters, studies the origin of the diffuse neutrino background from weak point astrophysical sources, which makes it impossible to detect them individually, or high-energy cosmic ray interactions that propagate from distant sources. ANTARES is an international collaboration formed by some 120 scientists from eight countries, including professors Sergio Navas and Antonio F. Díaz from the University of Granada (Spain).

When the neutrinos interact in the rock or water they generate an ultrarelativistic muon (a massive elementary particle) that emits blue light (called Cherenkov). This light is captured by photomultiplier sensors. From the position of the detected light and its arrival time, scientists measure the direction and energy of the neutrino.

The measurement of diffuse neutrino flux is key to understanding the mechanisms of cosmic ray production and acceleration in astrophysical sources and interaction properties.

The analyzed data reveal a moderate excess of cosmic neutrinos. “Although it is not yet possible to speak of evidence as it is necessary to increase statistics, the properties of the cosmic neutrino flux detected are consistent with those observed by the IceCube telescope, which is, without doubt, a promising result,” reports Navas. .

Illustration of the submarine neutrino telescope ANTARES, composed of 12 chains of photomultipliers that detect and amplify the light emitted by charged particles produced by neutrino interactions. (Photo: ANTARES).

The submarine neutrino telescope ANTARES, which began operating in 2007 about 40 kilometers off the coast of Toulon (France), is the largest neutrino telescope in the northern hemisphere.

It is a network of 885 light sensors (photomultipliers) distributed in 12 vertical lines anchored at the bottom of the sea at a depth of 2500 meters. Each line has an instrumented length of 350 meters and is separated from each other by 70 meters. The instrumented volume is 10 megatons of water.

The next generation of neutrino telescopes called KM3NeT, and in which construction and scientific exploitation also participate the University of Granada, will have a higher resolution for the measurement of energy and direction of neutrinos.

“With KM3NeT we will be able, in the immediate future, to accurately characterize the properties of the diffuse flow observed and to identify the cosmic sources of neutrinos,” Navas said. (Source: University of Granada-UGR Divulga)


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