Veronique Van Elewyck CNRS “80 Prime” winner
The Mission for
Transversal and Interdisciplinary Initiatives (MITI) launched the call for
projects “80 Prime” with the aim of supporting and strengthening
interdisciplinarity between CNRS institutes as part of CNRS’s 80th anniversary,
last December. Veronique VAN ELEWYCK is one of the four IN2P3 winners.
Jules Verne would not believe it, however, Veronique Van Elewyck, a specialist in neutrinos at the Astroparticles and Cosmology laboratory (APC) offers us a journey to the center of the Earth in her project Neutrino Studies and Earth Tomography (NuSET).
Let’s not dream, there’s no way we’re going to make it to the Earth’s core, but if not, the researcher proposes us to use as emissaries the atmospheric neutrinos to get down there instead. These particles produced in the upper layers of the atmosphere at each cosmic ray interaction shower the surface of the globe and since they interact very little with matter, cross the crust, mantle and nucleus as if they did not exist, but these particles still feel some after-effects. The ratio of neutrinos of different flavours (electronic, muonic and tauic) is sensitive to the electron density of the terrestrial layers crossed. With this in mind, Véronique Van Elewyck claims to divert the ORCA neutrino telescope, which will soon be installed at the bottom of the Mediterranean by the KM3NeT collaboration to investigate the chemical composition of the Earth’s bowels. This was enough to spark the curiosity of Edouard Kaminski and James Badro, geophysicists at the IPGP (Institut de physique du globe de Paris) who hope to take advantage of this first tomography of the globe using neutrinos to take a new look at the composition of the Earth’s nucleus. NuSET will also be an opportunity to boost this new technique by developing telescopes specifically optimized for terrestrial tomography, but above all by encouraging the many other neutrino telescopes in the pipeline to also look underground. When several telescopes operate, the journey to the center of the Earth could then be made in 3D.