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The largest neutrino telescope has been built in Russia. What is it and what is it for?

Baikal-GVD telescope started working on Lake Baikal fortrapping neutrinos. This is the name of the particles that are formed during nuclear reactions and have the ability to penetrate even the most complex objects. For example, a neutrino can travel through a layer of liquid hydrogen a thousand light years thick. These particles reach the Earth from different parts of the Universe and can tell a lot about the structure and origin of space. However, there are very few of these particles, and in order to "catch" them, scientists use a thick layer of ice, and a very large area. It is very expensive to create and maintain a huge pool specifically for the operation of the telescope, so scientists use natural reservoirs. We will tell you how the Baikal-GVD telescope works and what it is for. As always - only the most important thing to know.

Baikal-GVD telescope optical module

What does the Baikal-GVD telescope consist of?

Construction of the Baikal-GVD telescope began in2015, and this required 2.5 billion rubles. The device consists of a set of deep-water stations and steel cables attached to the bottom of Baikal. The stations, referred to as vertical garlands, are held at a depth of about 20 meters by means of special floats. 36 optical modules are suspended from the cable at a distance of 15 meters from each other. The telescope also includes four electronic modules for powering electricity, collecting data, controlling the telescope, and other tasks. On top of that, there are several so-called sonar modules that are needed to hold the optical modules in position. The stations are combined into groups that are connected to the Coastal Center.

Optical module design

Interesting fact: since ice is very important for the operation of the telescope, it can only work in winter.

How does a neutrino telescope work?

But the main elements of the telescope are notoptical modules, and ice on the surface of Lake Baikal. The device "catches" neutrino particles that arrive from the opposite side of the Earth. Particles fly through the entire mantle, core and other layers of the planet. At one moment, the next particle is born from them - a discharged meson. If nucleation occurs in ice, it emits radiation that scientists can detect. As you can understand, this happens extremely rarely and it is very difficult to catch them. But Baikal has a very large area and the probability of catch increases many times over.

IceCube neutrino telescope

IceCube and Baikal-GVD telescopes will look atdifferent parts of the sky and thus complement each other. The Baikal telescope will catch neutrinos penetrating the Earth from the South Pole and emerging in the Northern Hemisphere. And a telescope in Antarctica records particles that penetrate the planets from the North and emerge in the South. Thanks to the joint work of telescopes, scientists will be able to observe a large number of celestial objects at once. Ursa Major will be visible from Baikal, and the Magellanic Clouds from Antarctica.

See also: How do neutrino detectors work?

Why study neutrinos?

Scientists are confident that neutrinos can come frombowels of born and dying galaxies and carry with them information about the processes that occur in the Universe. It is hoped that studying these particles will help to learn more about the evolution of galaxies and other space objects. Also, Russian scientists hope that thanks to neutrinos they will be able to monitor the rate of thermonuclear processes taking place in the interior of the Sun. However, you should definitely not expect quick results. Experience with other similar telescopes shows that it can take years to detect particles.

Neutrinos can reveal the secrets of the universe

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Other neutrino telescopes are also located atterritories of the Mediterranean Sea, China and Japan. For the first time, neutrino particles were caught in the 1970s, with the help of a telescope, in the thickness of the Caucasian mountain Andyrchi. However, cleaner water was needed to detect neutrino particles with greater accuracy. It is because of this that in 1990 the decision was made to create a telescope on Lake Baikal. Then it was the first version, but now a more perfect version has worked.