Canada's underground observatory keeps a fly-like eye on the sun

Here at DVICE we love giant science installations like the Large Hadron Collider, but who knew they had something nearly as awesome in Canada? This amazing-looking sphere is actually an observatory of sorts, although one that's more than a mile beneath the earth's surface.

Unlike regular telescopes which use optics to get a visual fix on their subject, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory is designed to measure neutrinos reaching earth due to fusion reactions within the sun. The depth is necessary to reduce the background noise cause by cosmic rays detectable nearer the surface.

The Neutrinos pass through 1,000 tons of heavy water on loan from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, which then causes flashes of light called Cerenkov radiation. The radiation is picked up by the 9,522 ultra-sensitive photomultiplier tubes positioned around the 60-foot sphere.

While the original experiment is now completed, a follow-up experiment will replace the heavy water with something called liquid scintillator to provide even deeper understanding into the behavior of neutrinos.

That's all great, but I just think it looks stunning.

All photos by Roy Kaltschmidt for the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, via Make Blog