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Neutrinos and their small non-zero masses play a key role in cosmology and particle physics. The allowed range of the mass scale has now been narrowed down by the initial results of the international Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment (KATRIN). The analysis of a first four-week measurement run in spring 2019 limits neutrino masses to less than approximately 1 eV, which is smaller by a factor of 2 compared to previous laboratory results based on multi-year campaigns. This demonstrates the huge potential of KATRIN in elucidating novel properties of neutrinos over the coming years.
Apart from photons, the fundamental quanta of light, neutrinos are the most abundant elementary particles in the universe. The observation of neutrino oscillations two decades ago proved that they possess a small non-zero mass, contrary to earlier expectations. Accordingly, the "light-weights of the universe" play a prominent role in the evolution of large-scale structures in the cosmos as well as in the world of elementary particles, where their small mass scale points to new physics beyond known theories. Over the coming years, the most precise scale of the world, the international KATRIN experiment located at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), is set to measure the mass of the fascinating neutrinos with unprecedented precision.
Inauguration - Beamline - Spring - Year - Moment
official inauguration of the beamline. In spring this year, the big moment finally arrived: the 150-strong team (see Fig. 2) was able to "put neutrinos on the ultra-precise scale of KATRIN" for the first time. To that end, high-purity tritium gas was circulated over weeks through the source cryostat, and high statistics energy spectra of electrons were collected. Following this, the international analysis team went to work on extracting the first neutrino mass result from the spring 2019 measurement campaign.
KATRIN's current result builds upon years of effort, which established a data-processing framework, identified and constrained...
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