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First Italian Snapshot of CERN Neutrinos

For the first time, physicists working at the OPERA experiment have detected the shower of particles generated by a neutrino coming from CERN, located 730 kilometers away in Geneva. The OPERA experiment, in which four labs from CNRS-IN2P31 are taking part, is based at the Gran Sasso, near Rome, on the site of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics. Its aim is to study the neutrinos produced at CERN, after they have traveled through the Earth’s crust to Italy, a journey that lasts just 2.4 milliseconds. The ultimate objective is to reveal their oscillation, in other words the transformation of a muon neutrino into a tau neutrino. Today, the heart of the OPERA detector, which is filled with 60,000 of the 150,000 bricks that it will eventually contain in all, is technically ready for this discovery, which has been eagerly awaited for nearly 15 years. The bricks, which are made up of a stack of lead plates and special photographic film, have enabled researchers to “see” with unprecedented precision the elementary particles produced by the arrival of around ten neutrinos, an essential prerequisite for the direct detection of the oscillation.




Reconstitution of the impact of a neutrino recorded in a brick from the OPERA detector.

Notes :

1. Institut de physique nucléaire de Lyon (CNRS / Université Lyon 1), Institut pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien (CNRS / Université Louis Pasteur), Laboratoire de l'accélérateur linéaire (CNRS / Université Paris XI), Laboratoire d'Annecy-le-Vieux de physique des particules (CNRS / Université de Savoie).

Contacts :

Henri Pessard,
Yves Declais,


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