Soon, a giant telescope buried under South Pole to map Earth's core

thecheers.org    2007-11-24 06:01:17    

London, November 24 : Barcelona University scientists say that a giant telescope, currently under construction, may one day provide pictures of the Earth's core.
Barcelona University scientists say that a giant telescope, currently under construction, may one day provide pictures of the Earth's core.

The instrument called 'IceCube' will be buried in ice at the South Pole.

It is believed that the telescope will be capable of creating pictures of the Earth's dense iron core, silhouetted against the lighter rocky mantle, just like a bone is revealed by X-rays.

The device will be used to detect subatomic particles called neutrinos, which are so evasive that they can slip quite easily through the body of the planet.

IceCube, which will be buried in about a cubic kilometre of ice, consists of thousands of detectors. The detectors will look downwards watching for the distinctive flash of blue light, which would be an indication of a neutrino.

The researchers' main aim is to look for neutrinos from exotic objects in deep space such as the giant black holes in galactic cores, using the bulk of the Earth as a shield to screen out unwanted noise from other cosmic particles.

A neutrino telescope called AMANDA, IceCube's predecessor, once failed to see any of these distant neutrino sources.

"We will see them with IceCube, but they are not intense enough to scan the Earth," New Scientist magazine quoted Maria Gonzalez-Garcia of Barcelona University as saying.

The researcher, however, conceded that the neutrino illumination is so dim that a picture could only be built up very slowly. She said that it may take a decade to obtain an outline of the core.

She further said that seeing any detail at the core-mantle boundary would take much longer, or a still vaster neutrino telescope.

"With a bigger detector you can be more precise," Gonzalez-Garcia said.

Caltech Earth scientist David Stevenson, however, believes that the detailed pictures of the Earth's core may be built up by analysing seismic waves travelling through the planet.

"I am a proponent of neutrino geophysics, but it will probably not have a major payoff for decades," he said. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI


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