The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) consortium brings together 1300 scientists from 32 countries. They have published their scientific aims in a document over 200 pages long. This is the result of several years of work, and includes contributions from approximately fifteen Irfu researchers involved in X-ray and gamma-ray observatories (Fermi, Integral, XMM-Newton, H.E.S.S., etc.).
For more than 10 years now, Irfu physicists and engineers have been developing in Saclay the necessary equipment for the GBAR experiment, designed to test the behaviour of antimatter under terrestrial gravity. An important step has just been taken with the installation at the Cern of a new positron source using on an electron linac, and the transport to the Cern of the positron trapping system built at Saclay.
The new source produced its first positrons on November 17, 2017. The installation of the traps is in progress, to be operational when the antiprotons arrive, scheduled for spring 2018.
Thanks to new numerical simulations, a scientific team led by researchers from the Astrophysics Department-Laboratory AIM of CEA-Irfu has succeeded in explaining why the magnetic field of the Sun reverses every 11 years. Scientists have highlighted the existence of a strong feedback between the star magnetic field and its internal rotation profile, with temporal modulations that ultimately determine the period of the cycle. This major discovery in the understanding of the origin of the star magnetic fields is published on July 14, 2017 in the journal Science.
See the video : The magnetic cycle of the Sun in virtual reality (CEA Astrophysics)
According to the ALICE collaboration at LHC (CERN), certain rare proton collisions have properties that are similar to those of a quark–gluon plasma. In the past, these properties had been observed for collisions of heavy nuclei only. The physicists are now confronted with a new enigma: how can a state of quark–gluon plasma emerge in a system as "small" as that generated by a collision between two protons?
Several decades after its discovery, dark matter remains enigmatic. Researchers from IRFU have tested three models of dark matter in which the formation of large structures was modeled using supercomputing. The reconstruction of large structures from observations of quasar spectra favors the hypothesis of a standard "cold" dark matter and sets some of the strongest constraints on these invisible masses.
An international team from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has carried out the first large-scale spectroscopic analysis of quasars, and was able to create a full 3D map of the universe and its large structures as it was 6 billion years ago. For now, the standard model of Cosmology, based upon Einstein's general theory of relativity, is confirmed.
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (Desi) will analyze the light emitted by 35 million galaxies and quasars at various times in the past of the Universe and up to 11 billion years to better understand dark energy. Its move into the construction phase in 2016 crowns several years of research and development that have resulted in a solid design and a credible observation strategy. Irfu, a partner in the project from the outset, has played a key role. A look back at a year that saw the project become a reality.
The ScanPyramids collaboration has discovered a new void in the heart of the Kheops pyramid. This large vacuum was detected by muonic imaging techniques conducted by three separate teams from Nagoya University (Japan), CEC (Japan) and CEA/IRFU. It is the first discovery of a major internal structure of Kheops since the Middle Ages.
Similar in size to the Great Gallery, an architectural structure located in the heart of the Great Pyramid (47m long, 8m high), this new cavity, called ScanPyramids Big Void, has a minimum length of 30 metres. First observed with nuclear emulsion films installed in the Queen's Chamber (Nagoya University), then detected with a scintillator telescope installed in the same chamber (KEK), it was confirmed with gas detectors, MICROMEGAS, located outside the pyramid (CEA), and thus with a very different angle of view allowing to refine the location of this void. This is the first time that an instrument has detected a cavity located at the bottom of a pyramid from the outside.
These results were published by the ScanPyramids team on November 2, 2017 in the journal Nature.