Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Focus on Building Telescope at South Pole

11.12.2008
It's 40 degrees F below zero (with the wind chill) at the South Pole today. Yet a research team from the University of Delaware is taking it all in stride.

The physicists, engineers and technicians from the University of Delaware's Bartol Research Institute are part of an international team working to build the world's largest neutrino telescope in the Antarctic ice, far beneath the continent's snow-covered surface.

Dubbed “IceCube,” the telescope will occupy a cubic kilometer of Antarctica when it is completed in 2011, opening super-sensitive new eyes into the heavens.

“IceCube will provide new information about some of the most violent and far-away astrophysical events in the cosmos,” says Thomas Gaisser, the Martin A. Pomerantz Chaired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, and one of the project's lead scientists.

The University of Delaware is among 33 institutions worldwide that are contributing to the National Science Foundation project, which is coordinated by the University of Wisconsin.

Besides taking a turn as “on-ice lead” for this year's IceCube construction effort at the South Pole (or simply “Pole,” as the locals call it), Gaisser is managing the University of Delaware's continued deployment of the telescope's surface array of detectors, known as "IceTop."

A huge telescope in the ice

Rather than a giant lens aimed at the heavens, the IceCube telescope consists of kilometer-long strings of 60 optical detectors frozen more than a mile deep in the Antarctic ice like beads on a necklace. Atop each string of deep detectors sits a pair of 600-gallon IceTop tanks, each containing two optical detectors.

Ironically, it takes about seven weeks for the water in the IceTop tanks to freeze perfectly, without bubbles or cracks, which could obstruct the tiny flash that occurs when particles pass through the ice.

Neutrinos are among the most fundamental constituents of matter. Because they have no electrical charge and interact only weakly, these particles can travel millions of miles through space.

Neutrinos can pass right through planets, and they can emerge from deep inside regions of intense radiation such as the accretion disk around a massive black hole.

The surface IceTop detectors measure cascades of particles generated by high-energy cosmic rays showered down from above, while the detectors deep in the ice monitor neutrinos passing up through the planet from below.

When a flash of light is detected, the information is relayed to the nearby IceCube Lab, where the path of the particle can be reconstructed and scientists can trace where it came from, perhaps an exploding star or a black hole.

For Gaisser, this great quest to capture neutrinos is a cosmic journey in more ways than one.

“All of my career at Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware has been to study high-energy particles from space,” Gaisser says. “This experiment we're building fulfills all of my dreams. Besides, it's fun to work here,” he notes.

Working in the deep freeze

A drill camp supports each season of the IceCube project in the 24-hour daylight of the Antarctic summer. Drilling is a 24/7 operation with three shifts of drillers.

In the subfreezing temperatures and howling winds, fuel tanks supply generators that make electricity, which is used to heat the water that pulses through the high-pressure hoses that melt the mile-and-a-half-long deep holes into which strings of optical detectors are submerged.

The IceTop team works six days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., retreating to the warmth of the new Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, to sleep, eat, and spend what little free time they have reading, watching movies, exercising, or chatting with fellow “Polies.”

Among the new facility's amenities are constant e-mail communication, a recreation room with enough musical instruments for a band, and a greenhouse where lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes are grown.

Gaisser and senior electronics instrument specialist James Roth, electronics engineer Leonard Shulman, and physicist Paul Evenson will all work on location at the South Pole over the next several weeks, assisted by Hermann Kolanoski, a colleague who is a professor of physics at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Ten other scientists and graduate students from the University of Delaware Department of Physics and Astronomy also are involved in the effort, from deployment to data analysis. They include David Seckel, John Clem, Chris Elliott, Shahid Hussain, Takao Kuwabara, Bakhtiyar Ruzybayev, Todor Stanev, Serap Tilav and Chen Xu.

Log on to this Web site (http://www.expeditions.udel.edu/antarctica/) through Dec. 21 to read the research team's “Dispatches from the Frozen Frontier.”

Tracey Bryant | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.udel.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

nachricht Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino
16.07.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>