The lake is up to a mile deep, with some of the clearest fresh water in the world and a czarist-era railway that conveniently runs along the southern coast. Most importantly, it is covered with a 3-foot thick layer of ice in winter: nature’s ideal foundation for underwater photonuclear systems.
“It was as if Baikal was created for this kind of research,” said Bair Shaybonov, a researcher on the project.
Construction began in 2015, and the first phase of 2,304 light-detecting spheres deep down is expected to be completed by the time the ice melts in April. in the country all year round, monitoring the neutrinos and sending data to the scientists’ lakeside bases by underwater cables.) The telescope has been collecting data for many years, but the Russian Science Minister, Valery N. Falkov, plunged a chain saw into the ice as part of this month’s exclusive opening ceremony.
The Baikal telescope looks down, through the entire planet, to the other side, towards the center of our galaxy and beyond, essentially using Earth as a giant sieve. For the most part, larger particles hitting the opposite side of the planet will eventually collide with the atoms. But almost all of the neutrinos – 100 billion of which pass through your fingertips every second – are essentially continuing in a straight line.
However, when a neutrino, extremely rarely, hits the atomic nucleus in the water, it produces a cone of blue light called Cherenkov radiation. This effect was discovered by Soviet physicist Pavel A. Cherenkov, one of Dr. Domogatski’s former colleagues in a hallway at his institute in Moscow.
Many physicists believe that, if you spend years watching a billion tons of deep water searching for the tiny, unimaginable rays of Cherenkov light, you will eventually find neutrinos that can be derived from cosmic collisions have emitted them billions of light-years away.
The orientation of the blue cones even reveals the exact direction the neutrinos cause them to come. By having no charge, neutrinos are unaffected by interstellar and intergalactic magnetic fields, and other effects disturb the paths of other cosmic particles, such as protons and electrons. Neutrinos go straight through the universe as allowed by Einsteinian gravity.