Gran Sasso Laboratories, Borexino: 10 years of successes for the neutrino detector
The international community of astroparticle physics has celebrated the 10 years of scientific successes achieved by the Borexino neutrino detector at the Gran Sasso National Laboratories-LNGS and Gran Sasso Science Institute-GSSI, during a workshop that has brought together the most important experts in the study of neutrinos from all over the world.
Located at the heart of Gran Sasso at the LNGS of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Borexino has been chasing neutrinos for a decade: the elusive particles with no electric charge and almost no mass that can travel through the universe bringing us precious information about their sources. The experiment is the result of a wide collaboration which brings together Italy, Germany, France, Poland, United States and Russia.
Investigations of Borexino focus on the sky above us and the heart of our planet that the Gran Sasso detector scrutinizes from beneath the mountain, studying the particles produced in the nuclear reactions that fuel the Sun as well as those occurring in the Earth’s mantle.
Several important scientific achievements in the field of astroparticle physics have been obtained over the years thanks to the neutrino detector which is active beneath 1400m of rock. For example, it was Borexino that discovered that energy released from the Sun nucleus was virtually identical to that produced 100,000 years ago. Moreover, Borexino has measured, for the first time, the solar energy at the very moment of its generation.
Furthermore, it is thanks to the Borexino experiment that we have the most complete map of solar neutrinos at the various energies ever, while by observing neutrinos produced at the heart of the Earth, the Gran Sasso detector has confirmed that a great part of the heat from the heart of our planet is derived from radioactive decays of Uranium-238 and Torium-232 found in the Earth’s mantle.
“The astroparticle physics community – said Gianpaolo Bellini, Borexino developer and coordinator for 22 years – has always considered the scientific outcomes achieved by Borexino as crucial. We should remember that also in 2014 Borexino results were mentioned among the top 10 achievements of world physics by the British journal Physics World of the British Institute of Physics. And in 2016 and 2017 – said Bellini – I was awarded the international Bruno Pontecorvo award and the Enrico Fermi award, respectively, two recognitions that I consider as being awarded to the Borexino experiment”.
The series of successes that are being celebrated these days at Gran Sasso is far from being completed: over the next few years, the experiment will continue to collect data, improving the precision of the measures already obtained and taking new ones. “Borexino has not completed its task – concluded the detector developer – and is still making great efforts to obtain the experimental evidence of the nuclear reactions that dominate the universe and to confirm if a forth neutrino exists or not”.