Detection of high-energy cosmic ray showers by atmospheric fluorescence.
AuthorHalverson, Peter Georges.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractA novel detector for ultra-high energy cosmic rays, and its prototype are discussed. It detects events with primary energy greater than 100 PeV. (1 PeV = 1000 TeV; 1EeV = 1000 PeV.) The detector operates by sensing the near-ultraviolet scintillation light of ionized nitrogen molecules created by the passage of ionizing particles in extensive air showers. (The concept is loosely based on the highly successful Fly's Eye detector situated at Dugway, Utah.) Typical events should consist of 1 to 100 EeV primary energy showers, with near-vertical cores, passing through the detector's field-of-view at distances of 1 to 20 km. The optical field of view of the hypothetical detector would be 60 degrees wide by several (≈ 3) degrees high and would look in a near-horizontal direction at a distant mountain range or other suitably dark background roughly 20 Ian away. A typical good location would be the rim of a canyon, looking slightly downward at the other side. The field-of-view would be subdivided into 3 or more thinner ''wedges'', 60 degrees wide by, perhaps, 1 degree high. A single detector provides timing and brightness information only. Three widely-separated detectors with overlapping fields-of-view provide sufficient data to determine the core location, the zenith and azinruthal angles of the core axis, and the absolute luminosity of the cascade. Interpretation of the luminosity data would be a challenge, but it should be possible to estimate primary energy from it. The advantage of this new scheme is the enormous effective detector area per relatively low-cost detector module. Each triplet of detectors "sees" 300 square km with a typical core axis acceptance of roughly 1 sr. The construction and testing of a prototype unit has been accomplished. The field-of-view was 41 degrees wide by 2 degrees high. Light was collected by a 4.7 square meter mirror and focused onto a wave-shifter PMT system. 8 events with primary energies in the 0.1 to 1 EeV range were observed in an 8.5 hour period. Representative events are shown and preliminary data analysis is discussed.