From the Depths to Infinity
© F. Montanet/CNRS Photothèque/IN2P3
3D visuals of one of the submarine detectors, which carries three optic modules.
Last March, the Antares neutrino telescope, lying under 2500 meters of water off
Toulon (France), had its first try at the sky. A few hours later, it detected its first muons, the result of neutrinos that interacted with the terrestrial crust while traveling through the Earth. Antares has been designed to detect high-energy cosmic neutrinos, elementary particles that hardly interact with matter at all. To detect them, huge detectors are used, but they need to be shielded from the continuous background noise due to other cosmic radiation. Here, natural shielding is provided by 2500 meters of seawater. Antares has two major objectives: high-energy astronomy and the search for black matter. In addition, Antares forms a permanent multidisciplinary submarine scientific facility. It will record oceanographic data (observation of the deep sea, bioluminescent phenomena) and geophysical data (a seismograph monitors earthquakes). Antares is the result of a ten-year collaboration between about twenty European laboratories, including CEA/Dapnia and the CNRS/IN2P3 laboratories.