The first particle tracks have been seen by CERN’s neutrino detector

The first particle tracks have been seen by CERN's neutrino detector
Image: CERN

CERN’s neutrino detector has just recorded its first particle tracks, which is a significant breakthrough in the International Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE).

The first particle tracks have been seen by CERN’s ProtoDUNE detector, which is the largest liquid-argon neutrino detector in the world. The ProtoDUNE detector was developed by CERN but is now being used as part of the International Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). DUNE is dedicated to investigating neutrinos, the most abundant and mysterious matter particles in the universe.

DUNE will consist of two neutrino detectors, one detector at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois and a second, larger detector at the Sanford Underground Research Laboratory in Lead, South Dakota.

Physicists believe that finding out more about neutrinos may help to answer why we live in a universe dominated by matter, one of the most important questions in the field.

What is the ProtoDUNE detector?

About the ProtoDUNE detector:

  • It  is the size of a three storey house and shaped like a giant cube
  • It was built at CERN as the first of two prototypes for a much larger DUNE detector
  • It took two years to build and eight weeks to fill with 800 tons of liquid argon
  • The detector records traces of particles in that argon, from both cosmic rays and a beam created at CERN’s accelerator complex

What will happen now the first particle tracks have been seen?

Now that the ProtoDUNE detector has detected the first particle tracks, the scientists will  operate the detector over the next few months to test the technology in depth.

The DUNE co-spokesperson Stefan Soldner-Rembold of the University of Manchester, UK, said: “Seeing the first particle tracks is a major success for the entire DUNE collaboration… DUNE is the largest collaboration of scientists working on neutrino research in the world, with the intention of creating a cutting-edge experiment that could change the way we see the universe.”

The head of the Neurino platform at CERN, Marzio Nessi, added: “Only two years ago we completed the new building at CERN to house two large-scale prototype detectors that form the building blocks for DUNE…Now we have the first detector taking beautiful data, and the second detector, which uses a different approach to liquid-argon technology, will be online in a few months.”

 

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