- Researchers in Germany have started collecting data with a 60 million euro machine designed to help determine the mass of the universe’s lightest particle.
- Those are sometimes called “ghost particles” because they’re so difficult to detect.
Details of the Experiment:
- Researchers say determining the mass of neutrinos is one of the most important open questions in particle physics and will help scientists better understand the history of the universe. Some 200 people from 20 institutions in seven countries are part of the project.
- The KATRIN experiment is currently set up and commissioned on the Campus North of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology.
- The experiment is a collaboration between national and international partners with currently more than 150 scientists, engineers, technicians and students.
- KATRIN measures the neutrino mass in a model-independent way via ultrahigh precision measurements of the kinematics of electrons from beta-decay.
- Neutrinos are the most abundant massive elementary particles in nature. Due to their minimalistic properties they are key particles for understanding physics on the smallest scale (elementary particle physics) up to the largest scale – the universe (cosmology).
- Neutrinos are the only elementary particles of matter, which do not carry electrical or strong charge and thus are blind to the electromagnetic and the strong interaction and cannot be bound.
- In the context of particle physics they participate only in the weak interaction.
- This made neutrinos the most prominent candidate to explore with them the properties of the weak interaction.