Jul 14, 2024

METIS is a first-generation instrument for the ELT, the Extremely Large Telescope currently under construction in the Atacama Desert in Chile, which will see its first light in 2028. Irfu has been involved in this instrument since 2018. In 2021, 14 cryomechanisms that will drive a dozen optical systems on the METIS instrument were delivered. METIS comprises two separate units: one for spectroscopy, the other for imaging. The latter contains coronagraphs, based on phase masks. The performance of the masks designed by the University of Liège has been optimised by measurements carried out on the astrophysics department's optical bench dedicated to infrared imaging. In April 2024, after 6 months of testing and performance optimisation, the three masks for N-band coronagraphy (7.5-13.5µm) were delivered to the METIS consortium. They will shortly be integrated into the instrument, which will enter the manufacturing phase in 2024.

Jun 14, 2024

An international research team, including scientists from CEA, has just revealed the chemical composition of a disk of matter rotating around a young star, where new planets are forming. The results reveal the largest number of carbonaceous molecules ever observed in such a disk, including some detected for the first time outside our solar system. These findings have implications for the potential composition of planets forming around this star. These results, published in the journal Science on Thursday June 6, were obtained as part of the guaranteed time program of the MIRI instrument, developed by a consortium of laboratories in Europe and the USA.

Jan 22, 2024

The James Webb Space Telescope has produced a new portrait of the atmosphere of exoplanet WASP-39b, a "hot Saturn" some 700 light-years away. After the first near-infrared observations in 2022, which revealed for the first time the presence of sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, it was observed again in 2023, but this time in the far infrared, using the MIRI spectrometer. This new observation enabled the international research team, including Saclay's Astrophysics Department, to confirm the presence of this molecule in the atmosphere of WASP-39b and to constrain its abundance. This recent study demonstrates that photochemistry shapes the atmosphere of WASP-39b over a wide range of wavelengths.

The study was published in the prestigious journal Nature.

Jan 17, 2024

To unravel this mystery, several teams with diverse skills from the Astrophysics Department had to come together, as the architecture that unites the star to its planet is highly complex. They had to combine a detailed understanding of stellar and planetary physics, exploring their interactions, with a thorough knowledge of the observations made by NASA's Kepler satellite to be able to decipher the data.

The study shows that the observed rarity seems to derive not from observational bias, but rather from physical causes. Tidal effects and magnetism are sufficient to explain qualitatively and quantitatively the migration of nearby planets around fast-rotating stars. Moreover, this migration appears to be dependent on the spectral type (fundamentally linked to mass) of the star. While these results are promising, it is nevertheless necessary to expand the sample size to better constrain scarcity and better understand the mechanisms at play. In particular, this study highlights the importance of considering the spectral type of stars (their masses) if we are to correctly model star-planet interactions.

This work is published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Mar 27, 2024

An international team, including the Astrophysics Department of CEA-Saclay, led by the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA), utilized one of the world's most advanced spectrographs to detect the smallest "stellar tremors" ever recorded in an orange dwarf star, making it the smallest and coldest star observed to date with confirmed solar oscillations. This study demonstrates that asteroseismology is a powerful technique for studying such stars, opening new perspectives in our understanding of stellar physics and, by extension, exoplanets.

This study is published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters: “Expanding the frontiers of cool-dwarf asteroseismology with ESPRESSO: Detection of solar-like oscillations in the K5 dwarf ε Indi”.

Feb 12, 2024

With more than 5,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, administrators and students, CMS is one of the largest scientific collaborations in the world. With members from more than 240 institutes and universities in nearly 50 countries around the world, the collaboration exploits the data provided by the CMS experiment, one of the two giant general-purpose detectors installed along the circumference of the LHC, CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

Gautier Hamel de Monchenault, a physicist in the particle physics department at CEA-IRFU, was elected on Monday 12 February 2024 as the spokesperson for the CMS collaboration at CERN. He will hold this prestigious position from 1 September 2024 to 31 August 2026. He will be the 10th spokesperson for the CMS collaboration and the second French spokesperson to lead one of the four LHC experiments.

These intense years will see the end of the third data-taking period of the LHC as we know it, and the start of the installation of detector upgrades in preparation for the high-luminosity HL-LHC data, as well as the update of the European particle physics strategy.

Feb 02, 2024

On January 17, the T2K collaboration announced the launch of the second phase of its experiment, as stated in a press release. This phase will exploit an upgrade of the beam, whose nominal power has been increased from 450 kW to 710 kW, with the aim of reaching 1.2 MW by 2027. An improved version of the experiment's near detector ND280 is also being implemented, incorporating new time-projection chambers using resistive-Micromegas technology designed and developed by the IRFU teams. The aim of this second phase is to collect more than twice the neutrino statistics recorded during the previous phase by 2027, and to reduce the uncertainty in the measured neutrino  interaction rate by a factor of two. The aim is to achieve a statistical significance of 3σ on the violation of Charge-Parity (CP) symmetry, in the event of maximum CP violation, as suggested by the results of the first phase of T2K. The discovery of CP symmetry violation in the lepton sector could explain one of the most fundamental mysteries of modern physics: the matter-antimatter asymmetry observed in the Universe.

Feb 28, 2024

XMM-Newton's energetic universe joins forces with the Euclid satellite's vision of the sky. A thousand hours of X-ray observations, over a region 40 times the size of the moon, will complement multi-wavelength studies of the cosmic evolution of galaxy clusters. A decisive association to constrain cosmological scenarios and reveal the nature of dark energy.


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