KM3NeT - The Next Generation Deep-Sea Neutrino Telescope

Graphics of KM3NeT

Artist's view of the KM3NeT Observatory with a Cherenkov light cone induced by a muon.

KM3NeT is a large distributed research infrastructure that comprises a network of deep-sea neutrino telescopes in the Mediterranean Sea with user ports for Earth and Sea sciences. The main objectives of KM3NeT are the discovery and subsequent observation of high-energy neutrino sources in the Universe (ARCA) and the determination of the mass ordering of neutrinos (ORCA).

An array of thousands of optical sensors will detect the faint light in the deep sea that arises from charged particles originating from collisions of neutrinos and the Earth.

ARCA - Astroparticle Research with Cosmics in the Abyss

The objective of ARCA is the detection of high-energy neutrinos of cosmic origin. The successful construction and operation of the ANTARES detector (Mediterranean Sea) has demonstrated the feasibility of deep-sea neutrino telescopes. Furthermore, the transparency of the deep waters, the size of the detector and the geographical location make KM3NeT an ideal instrument to study sources of high-energy neutrinos in our Galaxy and beyond. Following the observations of cosmic rays and high-energy gamma rays, the questions remain which astrophysical objects accelerate subatomic particles to such high energies and which are the acceleration processes involved. In answering these questions, one is confronted with the ambiguity of the production mechanism of gamma rays and the difficulty to point back charged cosmic rays. This impasse can be broken by the observation of high-energy neutrinos. The neutrino signal recently reported by IceCube motivates a multi-messenger approach in which astrophysical particle accelerators can be identified and studied through the combined observations of cosmic rays, gamma rays and neutrinos. So, the next challenge is to identify the sources of cosmic neutrinos.

ORCA - Oscillation Research with Cosmics in the Abyss

The objective of the dense ORCA detector is the determination of the mass ordering of neutrinos. This so called mass hierarchy is, together with the CP-violating phase and possible Majorana nature of the neutrino, an outstanding unknown of the Standard Model of Particle Physics. With the ORCA detector it is possible to determine the mass hierarchy using oscillations of atmospheric neutrinos in the Earth. The ORCA detector provides in addition sensitivity to low-mass dark matter (via annihilation in e.g. the Sun) and possibly also to the composition of the Earth interior (via neutrino tomography).

For more information, please refer to the KM3NeT Homepage.

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