Russian Federation officials have approved the extension of a grant of 60 million rubles for the construction of the world’s largest gamma ray observatory TAIGA at the Tunkinsky Astrophysical Center. Winners of the original 2013 competition for the project of physics of the Irkutsk TAIGA originally won a 90 million ruble grant. The success of ongoing experiments has warranted not only further federal funding, but investment from European partners as well.
Having completed the first stages of the observatory in Tunka Valley, the grantees will embark on further construction and developments to deploy literally dozens of detectors for studying cosmic rays and particles which interact with our atmosphere. A new Cherenkov type telescope is also being constructed as well. This device will reveal groundbreaking gamma astronomy into super high energy never before undertaken. Nikolay Budnev, Director of Institute of applied physics ISU, had this to add concerning the project status:
"Over the past 3 years the first stage of the gamma ray Observatory, which successfully operates in the Tunka valley, has gathered experimental data that is in many respects superior to an experiments underway anywhere in the world.”
The facility in Tunka currently has deployed various types of detectors, simultaneously recording the cascade of particles resulting from the interaction of cosmic dust with the atmosphere. This initial stage has already allowed for research in the unexplored field of gamma astronomy of superhigh energies. However, even with the deployment of the new Cherenkov telescope, the scientists of TAIGA say the amount of work done will only be about 5% of what is planned. According to the news, some 1.5 billion rubles will be needed for the projected 2020 needs.
TAIGA stands for “Tunka Advanced Instrument for cosmic ray physics and Gamma Astronomy.” The complex is a hybrid platform for ground based gamma-ray astronomy. The research is based on a cooperative atmosphere which includes ISU, MPI for Physics, Munich, the NRNU "MEPhI", Moscow, the University of Hamburg, HUB Berlin, ISS Bucharest, and other institutions.