A Giant Telescope Deployed Several Feet Below Baikal Lake

A Giant Telescope Deployed Several Feet Below Baikal Lake

A team of Russian scientists have launched one of the world’s largest underwater telescopes to watch deep into the Universe from the water of Lake Baikal.

In collaboration with scientists from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia, the telescope observes neutrinos, which are the smallest particles currently known. The telescope has been in construction since 2015.

The telescope is under a depth of around 750-1300 meters and about 4 kilometres from the lake’s shore.

Neutrinos are hard to detect, thus using water helps to detect them better.

The observatory comprises strings with spherical glass, and stainless steel modules attached to them. The team observed the modules being carefully lowered into the freezing waters through a rectangular hole in the ice.

Dmitry Naumov of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research said that a neutrino telescope measuring half a cubic kilometre was situated right under our feet while standing on the lake’s frozen surface.

In several years, they will expand the telescope to measure one cubic kilometre, Naumov added. This will be a rival against Ice Cube, one of the largest neutrino observatory buried under the Antarctic ice at a US research station at the South Pole.

This telescope is the largest neutrino detector in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Of course, Lake Baikal is the only lake where you can deploy a neutrino telescope because of its depth,” says Bair Shoibonov of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research explained. Freshwater plays an important role.

More info at https://baikalgvd.jinr.ru/physics/

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