European-Russian neutrino telescope submerged in Siberian lake

Russian scientists have placed a neutrino telescope in Siberian Lake Baikal. The observatory will search for neutrinos at considerable depths below the surface. These are very small, volatile particles that are easier to detect underwater.

The Russian Joint Institute for Nuclear Research involved in the project writes that the Baikal-GVD was launched on Saturday. The telescope will be placed almost four kilometers from the shore station where the management is carried out and the data is processed. The specific location was chosen because the lake there is 1366 meters deep, because the bottom is flat and because there is a railway connection nearby.

Bair Shoibonov of the Russian institute told AFP that because of its depth, Lake Baikal is the only lake where such a neutrino telescope can be placed. It is also a freshwater lake, the largest in the world, and the clarity of the water also plays a role. In addition, ice was present for several months during the late winter, making it possible to assemble all the equipment for the telescope on the ice.

The telescope consists of a set of clusters, with each cluster being an independent neutrino detector. Each cluster consists of eight strings with a total of 192 optical modules. The spherical strings are about sixty meters from the central string and the vertical distance between the optical modules is fifteen meters. This was deliberately chosen to be able to detect the particles as effectively as possible. The upper modules will be at a depth of 700 meters and the lower ones at 1240 meters. The strings are attached to the bottom of the lake.

The Baikal-Gigaton Volume Detector is an international project to which scientists from Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Poland contributed. The primary goal is to study cosmic neutrinos and to search for their sources. According to the scientists, the telescope is the largest neutrino telescope in the Northern Hemisphere. There is an even larger one in Antarctica and another similar observatory in the Mediterranean. Since 2003, the Baikal Deep Underwater Neutrino Telescope has been conducting research beneath the surface of Lake Baikal; the Baikal-GVD is a new construction.

A single optical module is visible in the center and right.