AltSU participates in megascience space exploration as part of the international astrophysical collaboration TAIGA

10 April 2021 Department of Information and Media Communications
At the end of March, 2021 the trip of young scientists of Altai State University to the Tunkinskaya Valley (Buryatia) was successfully completed. Here, 50 km from Lake Baikal, the pilot complex of the gamma-astronomical observatory TAIGA is located.

Since 2018, working trips of specialists from Altai State University to the unique observatory have been carried out annually - the fourth group of scientists has already gone on duty to the site of the installation in the Tunkinskaya Valley. This year, two graduate students of the Institute of Digital Technologies, Electronics and Physics, Sergei Soldatkin, who visited the observatory for the second time, and Artemy Revyakin, were on watch at the facility for 10 days.

The observatory TAIGA (Tunka Advanced Instrument for Cosmic Ray Physics and Gamma Astronomy) was created to study the primary cosmic radiation of high and ultrahigh energies. High-energy particles, which include protons, nuclei of heavier elements and gamma-quanta, penetrate the Earth's atmosphere at high speeds and generate cascades of various types of secondary particles called extensive air showers (EAS). On the basis of the experimentally measured characteristics of EAS, it is possible to determine the type of primary particles, their energy, chemical composition, and direction of arrival, which makes it possible to put forward hypotheses regarding their origin. Today, large measuring complexes located all over the world are looking for an answer to the question of the origin and properties of primary cosmic radiation. A distinctive feature of the TAIGA observatory is a hybrid approach to measuring showers, the use of which implies the registration of various types of radiation with specialized detectors. Today, the measuring complex, covering an area of 1 sq. km, includes an installation for registration of electrons and muons Tunka-Grande, detectors for measuring Cherenkov radiation Tunka-133 and TAIGA-HiSCORE, atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes TAIGA-IACT, as well as equipment for measuring radio emission from EAS Tunka-REX. A new cluster of TAIGA-Muon muon devices is currently being tested and put into operation.

The installation detectors are controlled and their condition monitored from the laboratory, where information from all instruments is collected and displayed on monitors in real time. It is here that the duty officers do their work around the clock: they monitor the correctness of data collection from the detectors, once a day they archive measurements, and in case of malfunctions, the entire complex is restarted in manual mode. In the spring period, special attention is also paid to maintaining an acceptable temperature at the electronics of the data acquisition system of the TUNKA-Grande detectors.

In their free time, when the complex was operating normally, Sergei and Artemy were able to familiarize themselves with the principles of operation of the detector electronics and the features of the implemented data collection approach. In mastering these tasks, they were helped by a junior researcher at the Research Institute of Applied Physics of Irkutsk State University, a technical specialist for working with installations, Roman Monkhoev, who is now engaged in research work right at the observatory. The graduate students got acquainted with the areas of topical research that are already being carried out and are planned to be carried out at the gamma observatory, and also discussed areas of joint work.

By the end of the trip to the observatory, the process of conservation of the Cherenkov installations for the summer period began, when these detectors do not carry out measurements due to short nights and the threat of lightning striking them during a thunderstorm. The post-graduate students transferred the duty to specialists of the Irkutsk State University, who took up the diagnosis of the state of the complex and the transfer of the observatory to the summer mode of operation.

Astrophysicists of the flagship university of Altai Krai have been full-fledged participants in the international TAIGA collaboration since 2017. This collaboration is engaged in the creation of one of the world's largest gamma-astronomical observatories, which, according to scientists, will become a unique source of scientific data in the field of astrophysics of elementary particles, gamma-astronomy, cosmic ray physics, astronomy, physics of near-earth space, physics of meteoric phenomena, geophysics , radio physics, physics of the atmosphere, etc.

An astrophysical group led by Anatoly Lagutin, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Professor of Altai State University, recently familiarized the scientific community with the results of the first stage of a project to find a test site for a full-scale gamma observatory of the megascience level (the project was supported by the RFBR). The final reports were presented at the 36th All-Russian conference on cosmic rays and the scientific seminar of the TAIGA collaboration, the article was accepted for publication in the journal Izvestia RAN. Physical series."

“Scientists of Altai State University, together with colleagues from Irkutsk State University, studied the flat areas of the high-mountainous zones of the Greater Altai in Russia and Mongolia from the point of view of choosing a territory for designing a full-scale gamma observatory of the megascience level,” says Roman Raikin, Vice-Rector for the Development of International Affairs of Altai State University.  “Using the night data of the VIIRS radiometer of the Suomi NPP satellite platform, as well as data from the AIRS hyperspectrometer of the Aqua satellite, a study of astroclimatic conditions was carried out for performing nighttime astrophysical observations. It has been determined that the Chuya steppe region on the territory of the Altai Republic and the plateau of Lake Khuvsgul in the Khuvsgel aimag of Mongolia are most suitable areas for the placement of a full-scale gamma-astronomical experiment from the topographic and astroclimatic points of view.

Roman clarified that taking into account the infrastructural features, such as transport accessibility, the possibility of organizing energy supply, and others, in accordance with the latest results of processing space monitoring data for a significant period of time, a test site in the western part of the Chuya steppe is preferable.

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