Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory — The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) is taking data that has provided revolutionary insight into the properties of neutrinos and the core of the sun.

The detector, shown in the artist’s conception below, was built 6800 feet under ground, in INCO’s Creighton mine near Sudbury, Ontario.

SNO is a heavy-water Cherenkov detector that is designed to detect neutrinos produced by fusion reactions in the sun. It uses 1000 tonnes of heavy water, on loan from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), contained in a 12 meter diameter acrylic vessel.

Neutrinos react with the heavy water (D2O) to produce flashes of light called Cherenkov radiation. This light is then detected by an array of 9600 photomultiplier tubes mounted on a geodesic support structure surrounding the heavy water vessel.

The detector is immersed in light (normal) water within a 30 meter barrel-shaped cavity (the size of a 10 story building!) excavated from Norite rock.

Located in the deepest part of the mine, the overburden of rock shields the detector from cosmic rays. The detector laboratory is extremely clean to reduce background signals from radioactive elements present in the mine dust which would otherwise hide the very weak signal from neutrinos.


Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

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