Thursday, February 4, 2021

50,000 tons of water and the size of a 15-storey building: this is the Super-Kamiokande, the super neutrino observatory

 "Matter is no obstacle for the neutrino. A neutrino could pass through 100 light years of steel without even braking". Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist.

The reactors in the nuclear power plants are not so buried, why does this observatory? This has already been explained by the famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, when he talked about the Super-K and neutrinos, commenting that the observatory is so deep that there is enough distance so that the earth does not allow the passage of other subatomic particles with a mass so small that they are able to pass through solid matter and that makes them very difficult to detect, although the final application of their study may include a better understanding of the stars and, after all, the universe.

The Super-Kamiokande is also known by the abbreviation of Super-K, and we speak of it when dealing with the subject of Cherenkov’s bluish radiation. In the mine of Mozumi, under the city of Hida (in Gifu, Japan) is this structure of 40 meters high and 40 meters wide, more or less like a building of fifteen floors, being one of the most accurate observatories that exist in the world.

When atoms (fission) are broken in a reactor, the "pieces" (subatomic particles) are fired with a lot of energy and a speed greater than that of light, generating an electromagnetic field and losing energy that is emitted as photons (light).

This light accumulates to form a cone (whose apex is the point where the wavefronts meet), just like the sound barrier but in optics, and at the end this flash gives information about the direction and the type of neutrino that arrives.

Where is the water? Surrounding all that, in this case being 50,000 tons surrounded by about 11,000 photomultiplier tubes (very sensitive light detectors, known as PMTs, which detect light and convert it into electric current so that it can be observed). Its function is to cool, so that the nuclei are more stable and easier to control, in addition to being the medium that makes other particles faster than photons (in this case, what is projected after fission)...

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