The Super-Kamiokande Neutrino Detector Helps Scientists to Identify Dying Stars

The Japanese physics experiment at the University Of Tokyo, Kamioka Observatory, and ICRR (Institute for Cosmic Ray Research), called The Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector is a huge place where scientists can identify dying stars.

And if we were thinking that looking up into the sky is how you find dying stars, then Japanese scientists proves us wrong. It’s a 15-story building buried 1,000 meters under the Mount Ikeno, in Japan, that can assist them in their hunt.

The huge space is filled with water so pure that it can dissolve metals. The place can help scientists identify neutrinos, which are sub-atomic particles that travel through space and that can even penetrate solid matter. Examining neutrinos and how they behave can help scientists find out more about the formation of the Universe and its characteristics.

Neil deGrasse, the Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space (New York City) explains that neutrinos don’t see matter as an obstacle:

“A neutrino could pass through a hundred light-years of steel without even slowing down.”

Finding Dying Stars With the Super-Kamiokande Neutrino Detector

When massive stars die, they eject neutrinos before collapsing into black holes. The detector can locate the neutrinos that are spit out by dying stars and can tell scientists where the phenomenon takes place in the sky. Dr. Yoshi Uchida of Imperial College London explained that:

“If there’s a supernova, a star that collapses into itself and turns into a black hole and if that happens in our galaxy, something like Super-Kamiokande is one of the very few objects that can see the neutrinos from it.”

On average, we could detect a supernova exploding once 30 years, and if scientists miss the phenomenon, they will have to wait three decades to catch the event. But the neutrino detector can help them not miss the explosion.

The Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector can also do another thing. It’s called the T2K experiment, which is at the opposite side of Japan. The T2K experiment shoots neutrinos beams towards Super-Kamiokando, through the crust of the Earth and scientists study the particles’ behavior and their oscillation as they pass through the crust.

The chamber has 11,000 golden-colored bulbs called Photo Multiplier Tubes. According to Dr. Morgan Wascko of Imperial College, they are “the inverse of a lightbulb,” and can detect minuscule amounts of light, converting them into electrical current.

Dr. Wascko also said that they’re waiting for approval of a much bigger neutrino detector called “Hyper-Kamiokande.” If it gets the approval, it will “start running in approximately 2026,” he added. It will be 20 times bigger than the Super-Kamiokande and will have almost about 99,000 light detectors.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere

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