The HALO experiment located at SNOLAB went live as of today.
The HALO experiment is acquiring data on all 64 channels, all 128 NCD’s (Neutral Current Detectors). There is still much work to do on this experiment but this is an exciting milestone for the experiment. The Helium and Lead Observatory (HALO) is a dedicated supernova neutrino detector that is presently under construction underground at SNOLAB in the Creighton Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. HALO is a long term, low cost, high lifetime, and low maintenance, dedicated supernova detector.
The purpose of HALO is to observe the neutrinos from the next galactic supernova. These particles (neutrinos) stream out before the photons (light) do, giving researchers an opportunity to alert astronomers through the Supernova Early Warning System (SNEWS) so that the light signal can be caught in real-time. Just like researchers were able to look into the Sun with the SNO detector, HALO and other supernova detectors, will give us a window into the mechanics of the supernova explosion.
The HALO detector takes advantage of the low cost, high neutrino cross-section and low neutron absorption cross-section of lead. Neutrino interactions in lead kick out neutrons from the lead nuclei creating a burst of neutrons that can be detected giving researchers evidence of a supernova.