Japan has decided to build a new underground neutrino detector in Hida, Gifu Prefecture, to enhance research on the evolution of the universe, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
The science ministry will include in its fiscal 2020 budget request a part of the cost for constructing the Hyper-Kamiokande, estimated to total about 67.5 billion yen ($634.5 million).
Earlier models of the neutrino detector -- the Kamiokande and Super-Kamiokande -- were hosted in the same city and helped two Japanese scientists do research that led to the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Takaaki Kajita discovered neutrino oscillations and won the award in 2015 with the Super-Kamiokande, while Masatoshi Koshiba won the same award in 2002 after observing cosmic neutrinos using Kamiokande.
The University of Tokyo, a planned operator of the Hyper-Kamiokande, says the new detector is capable of obtaining data 10 times faster than the previous model.
Through observation of subatomic particles it hopes to find how a supernova explosion helps create heavy elements and make the world's first observation of proton decay.
The envisioned detector, to be built at an underground site 650 meters from the surface, will have a cylinder-shaped water tank measuring 74 meters in diameter and 60 meters in depth and 40,000 ultra-sensitive sensors for capturing light emitted when neutrinos react with water.
The operator will aim to start observation in the latter half of the 2020s, the sources said.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is hoping to cut the towering costs for the project by asking overseas research institutes to shoulder part of the burden, they said.© KYODO