KM3NeT - Recent News

Latest news items.

Blog about the ongoing sea operation for ARCA

In the evening of September 10, five new detection units of KM3NeT, onboard the Handin Tide, will sail from Malta headed to the KM3NeT/ARCA detection site. This site is located 80 km off the coast of Capo Passero, Sicily (Italy). During a 1-week operation, the detection units will be deployed and connected to the ARCA neutrino telescope at 3,500 m depth, adding up to the six already in operation.

The expectation is high for this new, important step in the construction of KM3NeT. Despite the pandemic, the Collaboration has worked hard to keep the high integration speed needed for such an ambitious project. The detection units include components prepared in various European laboratories, and also the integration, testing and installation of the units on their deployment vehicles was a joint effort of many different KM3NeT teams.

As we write this note, the detection units are safely restrained on the deck of Handin Tide, the ship crew and the KM3NeT offshore team are onboard and ready, and the ship is about to set sail. Onshore, everything is ready in the control station in Portopalo di Capo Passero. The motivation, everywhere, is very high.

We look forward to several days packed with hard work and documented with extraordinary images from the sea surface and the deep sea.

Follow the action while it takes place through our social media channels and our live blog!

 

 

The detection units awaiting deployment on the deck of Handin Tide. Note that the equipment has been already prepared in the order in which it will be moved off the ship: first, two tripods carrying an acoustic beacon each (partially visible in the picture) for the acoustic positioning system, then the reels carrying long cables for connection to the existing submarine network on the sea floor, then the detection units.


KM3NeT at ICRC2021

29 July 2021 – The International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC) has come to an end after two intense weeks.

The biannual conference organised under auspices of IUPAP, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. This year, the 37th edition of the conference was organised as an online version by DESY Zeuthen in Germany. The KM3NeT Collaboration participated in the conference with many contributions accepted by the International Science Committee of the conference.

Paschal Coyle, Spokesperson of the KM3NeT Collaboration, was invited to present a review talk on underwater neutrino telescopes, including obviously KM3NeT, but also its older sister ANTARES, the GVD telescope in Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia and the new initiative P-ONE offshore the coast of Canada in the Pacific Ocean:

   

Five more talks covered the very first results obtained with ORCA and ARCA, as well as the prospects for neutrino oscillation measurements and mass ordering determination. With only 6 detection units ARCA6 sees candidates for atmospheric neutrinos; with only 6 detection units ORCA6 sees the effect of oscillation:

In addition, more than 20 poster contributions were presented by the members of our Collaboration. Among them, Thijs van Eden and Jordan Seneca, two PhD students at Nikhef, Amsterdam, who were awarded the best poster prize for their contribution discussing reconstruction of single and double cascade in KM3NeT. Congratulations Thijs and Jordan!

  

 


In memoriam

Giorgos Androulakis

(1978 – 2021)

 

With shock and great sadness the KM3NeT Collaboration learned that our colleague and dear friend Giorgos Androulakis passed away suddenly on the 9th of July 2021, aged 43.

 

Giorgos joined KM3NeT in 2014 as a member of the NCSR “Demokritos” in Athens, Greece and from the start he became deeply involved with the construction of the detectors. In 2017, he took over as the QA/QC Manager of the Collaboration, coordinating the activities for quality control during detector construction and operation and managing a team of local quality supervisors at the institutes involved in the detector construction. He was a key long-term member of the KM3NeT Management Team and the Steering Committee.

Giorgos was unfailing in his help to the institutes when setting up their facilities for the detector construction, to help understand the origin of problems when they arose, and to support people with the intricacies of the database. On the management side his careful following of non-conformities and probing questions would often lead us to an understanding and a solution for the issue of the day. His logical approach, insight and sage advice was invaluable for many important decisions.

The recent successes of the collaboration in the construction of the seafloor infrastructures and detection units owes so much to his skills, dedication and hard work.

Giorgos was greatly appreciated by all the members of the collaboration; he was the oil that kept us all moving smoothly in the right direction. Many of us mourn a good friend. Personally, I will certainly miss our discussions over a few beers after a hard day at the Collaboration meeting and especially his unique and ironic sense of humour.

 

On behalf of the KM3NeT Collaboration I would like to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.

 

We will miss him dearly.

 

Paschal Coyle, Spokesperson KM3NeT Collaboration

 


Yet another virtual spring meeting

A few weeks ago, KM3NeT held its two-week long spring meeting, once again virtually, like almost all meetings nowadays.

With twelve detection units operating in the ARCA and ORCA detectors, it was a joy to discuss the progress of the data analysis groups and prepare for the reports at the summer conferences. With our smooth network of almost twenty production sites new detection units are being prepared at the maximum speed that the COVID-19 restrictions allow. New deployment campaigns are in preparation.

Although at a distance, we felt close to each other thanks to the virtual coffee breaks in the gather town set up by our colleagues of Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire de Caen (many thanks!). We concluded the meeting with an exciting quest to fix the unexpected problems found in a virtual shift room: this was a run against the clock to find out the password to get free from the locked room and reconvene for a final party at the bottom of the sea – real shifts won’t ever be so hilarious!

As usual, the meeting was also the occasion to welcome the many newcomers and to remind the accomplishments of those that are leaving the collaboration for a next step in their professional career. Thanks a lot for your work for KM3NeT. We wish you all the best and success in your  new working environment!

We sincerely congratulate Diego Real whose PhD thesis was recently awarded an important prize of the Spanish Society of Astronomy!

We were pleased to welcome new teams from the University of Toulon and Institut de Ciències del Mar in Barcelona – both aim at new investigations in the deep-sea environment and have already collaborated with the ANTARES telescope and the NEMO pilot project in the Mediterranean.

Among the new activities announced at the meeting: an Open Science Committee has been established, while the representatives of our early-career-scientists put forward a plan for making the life of our youngest collaborators easier even in these difficult times.

It was a fruitful and pleasant meeting!

The call for an institute to organise the next Collaboration meeting in the fall has been opened – hopefully the next meeting will be in person?


New publication: Neutrino Mass Ordering and Oscillation Parameters

05 May 2021 – The potential of KM3NeT to measure key properties of neutrinos – in March 2021, the KM3NeT Collaboration released a publication showing that  KM3NeT with its ORCA detector will be in an excellent position to study the phenomenon of neutrino oscillations!

Three neutrino flavours and oscillation

Neutrinos come in three species called flavours: the electron neutrino, the muon neutrino, and the tau neutrino. In the 1960’s, the first experiment was started to study the sun by measuring the flux of electron neutrinos that the solar nuclear processes copiously produce. The experiment revealed that the flux was inconsistent with the expectations! Many solutions were put forward to explain the discrepancy until a measurement of the flux of neutrinos of all three flavours was made and found compatible with the expectation. This key measurement meant that the expectations for the neutrino flux produced by the sun were correct and that the electron neutrinos were converted into other flavours while traveling to Earth. This phenomenon is called neutrino oscillation, subsequently detected also in other contexts. This phenomenon is only explained by quantum mechanics and requires that the neutrinos, initially thought massless, are actually massive!

Neutrino admixture

The neutrinos with definite masses happen to be different from the neutrinos with definite flavours. In other words, a neutrino of a given flavour is an admixture of the neutrinos of definite mass as shown in the top part of fig:1. Because of the mass difference between the neutrino mass states, these states do not propagate at the same velocity. As a result, the neutrino admixture evolves during the propagation, as shown in the bottom part of fig:1. In other words, while propagating, the neutrino flavour changes.

 

Figure 1: Top:the mass state admixtures corresponding to the flavour (so-called weak) states for 2 neutrinos. Middle: a muon neutrino is produced at t=0. As time goes, the neutrino mixture varies reaching periodically a pure muon neutrino state. The probability for the neutrino to be detected in each flavour is represented at the bottom. Reproduced from Slansky et al. Los Alamos Sci. 25 (1997) pp. 28-63.

Using atmospheric neutrinos

The KM3NeT Collaboration aims to study this oscillation phenomenon using neutrinos produced in the collisions of cosmic rays onto the atmosphere. Using these neutrinos, the KM3NeT Collaboration will be able to measure one of the key parameters ruling the neutrino admixture: the so-called θ23 mixing angle. We will also be able to measure the squared mass difference between two of the neutrino mass states – δm232 – and to tell which of the three mass states is the heaviest, i.e. determining the neutrino mass ordering as shown in fig:2. Finally, we will check if the standard three neutrino oscillation paradigm is valid by measuring the fraction of cosmic-ray induced neutrinos that have oscillated to the tau neutrino.

Figure 2: Sensitivity to neutrino mass ordering as a function of data taking time for both normal (red upward pointing triangles) and inverted ordering (blue downward pointing triangles). See the paper for more details and the values of the oscillation parameters considered to obtain the result.

Unique potential

The publication relies on precise simulations to determine the sensitivity of the KM3NeT/ORCA detector to these parameters. The prospects show that the experiment has a unique ability to make these measurements and that world best results can be obtained in few years of data taking with the full detector.

The publication has been submitted to EPJ-C and is available as a pre-print as arXiv:2103.09885.

 


Exciting deployment on the ARCA site!

15 April 2021 – During the last few weeks – despite the pandemic – the KM3NeT Collaboration worked hard to make five new detection units for ARCA ready for deployment. Spooled on their launching vehicles they arrived at the harbour of Malta where a team of KM3NeT technicians, engineers, and scientists inspected thoroughly the units for the last time before they were loaded onto the Miss Marilene Tide of the FUGRO company. In the early morning of 8th April the ship sailed out toward the IDMAR site of ARCA near Sicily for an amazing sea operation. After installing several new components for the seafloor network, on Monday 12 April the deployment of the five new detection units began.

Press_release_ARCA_042021 (pdf)

 

Detection unit approaching touch down at the seabed, 3500 m deep.

 

Junction box at the seabed with the plugs of five detection units.

 

Located in the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of 3,500 m about 80 km offshore Capo Passero, Sicily, the ARCA telescope together with its sister telescope ORCA, located offshore Toulon, France will allow scientists to identify the sources of high-energy cosmic neutrinos emanating from cataclysmic events in the Universe and to study the fundamental properties of the elusive neutrino.

Once complete, the KM3NeT/ARCA detector will form an array of more than two hundred detection units. Each of the 700 m tall units comprises 18 optical modules equipped with ultra-sensitive light sensors that register the faint flashes of light generated by neutrino interactions in the pitch-black abyss of the Mediterranean Sea.

The journey of our new detection units started earlier this month where, after being assembled and prepared for deployment, they left the labs in Catania and Naples on the ferry for Malta. The detection units represent the output of a construction effort distributed over many institutes of the Collaboration.

It took only two days to deploy, test and connect the five new units to the seafloor network. They add to the first detection unit of the apparatus, deployed as early as 2015. In the control room in Capo Passero the first data after connection were recorded immediately. An amazing sea operation came thus to an end, marking a big step for KM3NeT, which is operating now with six detection units in ARCA and also six at ORCA. KM3NeT is now ready to sustain mass construction of the apparatuses at the two sites.

Stay tuned: next sea campaigns for ARCA and ORCA are planned in a few months!

 

The five detection units of KM3NeT onboard the deployment ship.

 

Control of the operation from the shore laboratory in Portopalo di Capo Passero (the operation was performed in full respect of the anti-COVID-19 safety measures).

 

 

Enjoy the videos of the sea operation at our KM3NeTneutrino YouTube channel

 

KM3NeTneutrino Youtube channel:

Overboarding of the junction box (aerial view):

Overboarding of a detection unit:

Contact:


Exciting times for neutrino astronomy!

15 March 2021 – In the past weeks, not one but two exciting observations were published in the field of neutrino-astronomy! A neutrino was observed that could be correlated to a Tidal Disruption Event observed by the Zwicky Transient Facility and for the first time a particle shower was observed by the IceCube detector at the energy of the Glashow resonance. KM3NeT rejoices for these remarkable observations that show the increasing power of neutrino astronomy and multi-messenger observation.

A high-energy neutrino detected in the direction of a Tidal Disruption Event

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory constantly monitors the sky, searching for high-energy neutrinos emitted from the most energetic phenomena in our Universe. When they find one, they send an alert to the astronomy community, hoping other instruments could also see an electromagnetic signal from the same location in the sky.

In October 2019, the Zwicky Transient Facility observed, in the direction of one of these neutrino alerts, the signal expected from a Tidal Disruption Event, the shredding of a star coming close from a black hole. The probability of having a high-energy neutrino correlated with this astrophysical event, named AT2019dsg, by chance has been determined to be of 0.2% by the team leading the research project at DESY, Germany.

This electromagnetic radiation – neutrino correlation might be the first one from this source population. More data, and hopefully more correlated observations, are needed to fully characterise the phenomenon. Our colleagues in the Mediterranean Sea, the ANTARES Collaboration, have also searched for neutrinos from AT2019dsg.

KM3NeT will be a tremendous asset in this quest.  Our realtime multi-messenger astronomy program will allow us to send an alert when an interesting neutrino candidate is detected in KM3NeT but also respond to alerts sent by partners detecting electromagnetic or gravitational waves.

More info on the TDE-neutrino association:

 

After the supermassive black hole tore the star apart, roughly half of the star debris was flung back out into space, while the remainder formed a glowing accretion disc around the black hole. Credit: DESY, Science Communication Lab

A particle shower detected at the Glashow resonance

The IceCube Collaboration has reported the first observation of a particle shower at the energy of the Glashow resonance. This process, predicted 60 years ago by S. Glashow, occurs when an electron anti-neutrino interacts with an electron. At a very high energy (6.3 PeV), there is a resonance effect and the interaction probability for this anti-neutrino is 300 times larger than that of the other neutrino flavours at the same energy.

The process only happens for an electron anti-neutrino, and does not for the electron neutrino or the other neutrino flavours. This process therefore gives the possibility to probe the content of the high-energy astrophysical flux of neutrinos and constrain the mechanism that has produced them at the source. Indeed, depending on the production channel (for example whether accelerated protons interact with matter or with light) we will expect a different ratio of neutrino vs anti-neutrino. With only one event, we cannot yet differentiate between the possible production models.

The KM3NeT/ARCA detector in KM3NeT will be sensitive in this energy range and will contribute to hopefully detect more of these Glashow resonance events. With more data, we will be able to use these events to better understand the processes occurring in the most energetic phenomena in our Universe.

Read the ins and outs of the result in the associated Nature news and views written by Carla Distefano, member of the KM3NeT Collaboration: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00486-1

For detailed info on the Glashow resonance event found by IceCube and the performance expected of KM3NeT:

A visualisation of the Glashow event recorded by the IceCube detector. Each colored circle shows an IceCube sensor that was triggered by the event; red circles indicate sensors triggered earlier in time, and green-blue circles indicate sensors triggered later.

 

(Credit feature image: IceCube Collaboration (ICL photo by Yuya Makino, IceCube/NSF))

 


New publication:  core-collapse supernova explosions

11 March 2021 – In February 2021, the KM3NeT Collaboration released a publication describing the potential of KM3NeT to detect low-energy neutrinos from a future core-collapse supernova. The publication is submitted to the European Physical Journal  C.

What is a core-collapse supernova?

Core-collapse supernovae  are very energetic explosions that can end the life of massive stars. They have the peculiar feature of releasing about 99% of their energy as a huge flux of low-energy neutrinos. The neutrinos can escape the stellar core carrying information on the physical processes at play in the collapse, when the star is still opaque to light.

How well can KM3NeT observe a core-collapse supernova?

Thanks to the technology of KM3NeT based on the multifaceted modules with light sensors the KM3NeT detectors are particularly sensitive to the low-energy neutrinos from a supernova.  In the publication it is shown that KM3NeT  – when finished building the detectors –  can reach a 5 sigma discovery potential to observe a core-collapse supernova happening in the Milky Way. For the most optimistic theoretical models describing core-collapse supernovae, the detection threshold can extend up to the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The potential sensitivity of the KM3NeT detectors with 230 detection units in the ARCA detector and 115 units in the ORCA detector as a function of distance of the core-collapsed supernova. Curves are shown for three different masses of the progenitors.

Details

Once a core-collapsed supernova is observed, researchers of KM3NeT can study aspects of the neutrino emission such as the detected neutrino light curve and the neutrino spectrum. This will provide the potential for discrimination between different theoretical models of core-collapse supernovae and help to understand the physical processes behind the explosion mechanism. The time of arrival of the neutrino signal can be determined with an accuracy better than 10 ms for a source at the Galactic Center. The oscillating signature of hydrodynamical instabilities and other physical processes impacting the neutrino time profile can also be detected for nearby events: 3 sigma at 3-8 kpc, depending on the model. From the recorded coincidences, KM3NeT will be able to infer the properties of the neutrino spectrum, estimating the mean neutrino energy with a precision of about 2% if the other spectral parameters such as the energy scale and pinching parameter are known with a small uncertainty.

Neutrino light curves expected using the future full ARCA detector of 230 detection units, from a core-collapse supernova at a distance of 5 kpc and a progenitor of 27 solar masses.

What is possible with the current six detection units of the ORCA detector?

Already with the six detection units of the ORCA detector currently taking data, a detection at 5 sigma level of a core-collapse supernova can be achieved for supernovae at distances up to 10 kpc. The online analysis pipeline is in place, sending warning messages to SNEWS  – the worldwide network  for early warning for supernova events. The first MeV neutrino follow-ups of warnings by gravitational-wave detectors were performed using the data of only four ORCA detection detection units  that were active at that time, bringing the first KM3NeT physics results.

 

Exciting times are ahead. KM3NeT is ready for the observation of the next core-collapse supernova event in our Galaxy!