On May 18th 2020, ESO formally closed the preliminary design review of the ELT/METIS thermal infrared instrument. Following this important milestone, the instrument enters into the final design phase (phase C) in which the its design will be frozen just before its building.
To measure cosmological parameters, the Euclid space telescope will use two main probes: gravitational lensing (Weak Gravitational Lensing) and galaxy distribution (Galaxy Clustering). These measurements will allow us to study dark energy and dark matter, which affect the growth of cosmic structures and the accelerated expansion of the Universe.
In addition to its implications on instrumental developments and data processing, Irfu is actively involved in the development of algorithms needed to prepare the extraction of cosmological parameters that will be derived from Euclid measurements.
Coordinated by Valeria Pettorino, physicist at Irfu's CosmoStat laboratory, in collaboration with Tom Kitching (UCL) and Ariel Sanchez (MPE), an international team from the Euclid collaboration with complementary expertise in theory and observation has just completed a 3-year study characterizing the performances expected from Euclid for these observational probes.
Publication an Arxiv: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1910.09273.pdf
Arrived safely. The focal plane of the visible imager on the Euclid satellite has just been delivered by Irfu to the laboratory responsible for the instrument (MSSL/UK) to continue its integration into the satellite, which is scheduled to take off in 2022.
The first studies of this focal plane have been carried out at Irfu since 2010 and after almost 10 years of development and testing, it was fully tested by Irfu in 2019. This Focal Plane is composed of 36 CDDs totalizing more than 600 million pixels. Each image acquired in flight by this focal plane will make it possible to characterize more than 50,000 galaxies. It is the second largest camera, observing in the visible, launched into space after that of the Gaïa satellite. In space, its observations will allow the measurement of galaxy deformations due to weak gravitational lensing effects induced by clusters of dark matter that light encounters on its way to us. These gravitational distortion effects measured at different ages of the Universe will provide measurements of the distribution of dark matter and will be a constraint on dark energy.
*Mullard Space Science Laboratory
In order for the images produced by the future MRI to be free of distortions or artifacts, the magnetic field generated by the Iseult magnet must be homogeneous to 0.5 PPM (parts per million) around the patient's brain. To meet this challenging specification, it was necessary to provision means of "shimming" the field, i.e. of correcting all the small defects that would inevitably arise from the manufacturing process. 5904 pieces of shim (small iron platelets) were screwed onto rails and installed inside the magnet tunnel. This first configuration was tested on Thursday, July 9, 2020 by mapping its effect on the magnetic field of Iseult at 3 T. The results are very encouraging as this first shimming iteration allowed to increase the homogeneity of the field in the useful zone from 138.8 to 3.2 PPM (value extrapolated to 11.72 T from magnetic measurements at 3 T).
In its standard form, double beta decay is a process in which a nucleus decays into a different nucleus and emits two electrons and two antineutrinos (2νββ). This nuclear transition is very rare, but it was detected in several nuclei with sophisticated experiments. If neutrinos are their own antiparticles, it’s possible that the antineutrinos emitted during double beta decay annihilate one another and disappear. This is called neutrinoless double beta decay (0νββ), a phenomenon never observed so far. If 0νββ is detected, we will ascertain that neutrinos are their own antiparticles, and this would be a clue as to why they get their tiny masses—and whether they played a part in the existence of our matter-dominated universe.
The CUPID-Mo experiment, installed at the Modane Underground Laboratory, after one year of data between March 2019 and April 2020 has just set a new global limit for the detection of the signature 0νββ.
The international CUPID-Mo experiment conducted by French laboratories of IN2P3, CEA/IRFU and CEA/IRAMIS has been testing the use of Molybdenum-based crystals since last April to detect double beta decay without neutrino emission. The experiment is gradually gaining strength and already shows a near-zero background in the region of interest, which is very promising. The scientists of the collaboration made an update in the occasion of the official inauguration on 11 and 12 December 2019.
The complexity of the atomic nucleus reflects a multi-component character of the « nuclear force » that holds protons and neutrons together. Proper separation and characterization of each of these components represents a challenge for both theoretical and experimental nuclear structure studies. The tin isotopes (nuclei with Z=50 protons and a number of neutrons depending on the isotope) provide ideal opportunities to study the competition between two of the nuclear force components: the so-called pairing, related to the marked tendency of protons and neutrons to form pairs in the nuclear matter, and the so-called quadrupole interaction term, describing the natural susceptibility of nuclei to adopt deformed shapes. Though of a different nature, these two interaction terms contribute to the goal of achieving an optimum organization of nucleons in the atomic nucleus that will minimize its energy. Previous works have demonstrated that a shift of balance between these two components takes place when approaching tin-100, and this observation provided important constraints for theoretical descriptions of this so-called “doubly-magic” nucleus. Having the same numbers of protons and neutrons (Z=N=50), 100Sn is a key nucleus to validate model descriptions of exotic nuclei.
A few microseconds after the Big Bang the Univers may have gone through a deconfined state of quarks and gluons, the Quark–Gluon Plasma (QGP). The QGP can be recreated in high-energy heavy-ion collisions. In particular at the LHC at CERN, the QGP behaves like a fluid. All particles, light, strange, or charmed flow collectively as if being carried by the same fluid, proving the strength of the interactions between QGP constituents. The ALICE Collaboration at the LHC, with decisive contributions from the Irfu teams, has just published, in the prestigious Physical Review Letters journal, the first measurement of the elliptic flow of Υ(1S) (a particle composed of a beauty quark and its antiquark). This resonance appears as the first particle at the LHC not flowing with the fluid. This pioneering result opens up the path for deeper studies of the QGP.
Photon-photon elastic scattering is a very rare phenomenon in which two real photons interact producing a new real photon pair. The direct observation of this process at high energy, impossible during decades, was done by ATLAS  and CMS  experiment at CERN between 2016 and 2019. These successes have led the two collaborations to strengthen their involvement in this new field, leading to a new measurement, currently being published by the ATLAS experiment . Presented for the first time at the LHCP conference in May 2020, the new idea is to use photon collisions to search for a hypothetical axion-like particle. As with the first publications on the subject, IRFU members are at the origin of the ideas at work in the analyses carried out at CERN.
Motivated by unusual features recently observed with the ALMA instrument in a proto-planetary disc around the star AB Aurigae, an international team of astrophysicists including a researcher from the Department of Astrophysics / Laboratory AIM of the CEA-Irfu of Paris-Saclay has just obtained a very sharp high-contrast image of a S-shasped sub-structure in the gaseous and dusty disc surrounding the star. This remarkable structure, unique and captured thanks to the excellent image quality of the ESO VLT SPHERE instrument, indicates the presence of a giant planet in formation, confirming a theoretical scenario of the birth of planets. Published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, and subject of an ESO announcement, this work is a precursor to future research programmes on protoplanetary disks with the future ELT/METIS instrument.
The Fermi-LAT collaboration has published its fourth source catalog, named 4FGL. Based on eight years of data, it contains 5064 celestial objects emitting gamma rays at energies around 1 GeV, adding more than 2000 high-energy sources to the previous collection (published in 2015). More than one fourth of the objects are of unknown nature, calling for numerous follow-up studies. Although its volume is modest compared to the billions of sources listed in optical catalogs, the 4FGL catalog is by far the deepest in gamma-ray astronomy and serves as a reference to the entire domain. The catalog, coordinated by a researcher at the Astrophysics Department (AIM Laboratory) of CEA-Irfu at Paris-Saclay, is accessible on line at the NASA Fermi web site. In parallel, the 4LAC census of active galactic nuclei (coordinated by a researcher at CNRS/CENBG) is also made available to the community.
An international campaign including ground-based and space telescopes, including the INTEGRAL satellite, discovered end of April 2020 very short pulses in both X-rays and radio waves coming from a compact object in the Galaxy, the magnetar SGR 1935+2154. The simultaneous observation of these signals is seen for the first time in this type of source and attests a connection between magnetars and Fast radio bursts, a class of radio sources whose origin is today poorly known. This work, that includes researchers from the Astrophysics Department/ AIM Laboratory of CEA-Irfu of Paris-Saclay, is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and subject press release of a European Space Agency (ESA).