139 research outputs found

    The Fluorescence Detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory

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    The Pierre Auger Observatory is a hybrid detector for ultra-high energy cosmic rays. It combines a surface array to measure secondary particles at ground level together with a fluorescence detector to measure the development of air showers in the atmosphere above the array. The fluorescence detector comprises 24 large telescopes specialized for measuring the nitrogen fluorescence caused by charged particles of cosmic ray air showers. In this paper we describe the components of the fluorescence detector including its optical system, the design of the camera, the electronics, and the systems for relative and absolute calibration. We also discuss the operation and the monitoring of the detector. Finally, we evaluate the detector performance and precision of shower reconstructions.Comment: 53 pages. Submitted to Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section

    Atmospheric effects on extensive air showers observed with the Surface Detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory

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    Atmospheric parameters, such as pressure (P), temperature (T) and density, affect the development of extensive air showers initiated by energetic cosmic rays. We have studied the impact of atmospheric variations on extensive air showers by means of the surface detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory. The rate of events shows a ~10% seasonal modulation and ~2% diurnal one. We find that the observed behaviour is explained by a model including the effects associated with the variations of pressure and density. The former affects the longitudinal development of air showers while the latter influences the Moliere radius and hence the lateral distribution of the shower particles. The model is validated with full simulations of extensive air showers using atmospheric profiles measured at the site of the Pierre Auger Observatory.Comment: 24 pages, 9 figures, accepted for publication in Astroparticle Physic

    The exposure of the hybrid detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory

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    The Pierre Auger Observatory is a detector for ultra-high energy cosmic rays. It consists of a surface array to measure secondary particles at ground level and a fluorescence detector to measure the development of air showers in the atmosphere above the array. The "hybrid" detection mode combines the information from the two subsystems. We describe the determination of the hybrid exposure for events observed by the fluorescence telescopes in coincidence with at least one water-Cherenkov detector of the surface array. A detailed knowledge of the time dependence of the detection operations is crucial for an accurate evaluation of the exposure. We discuss the relevance of monitoring data collected during operations, such as the status of the fluorescence detector, background light and atmospheric conditions, that are used in both simulation and reconstruction.Comment: Paper accepted by Astroparticle Physic

    Evidence for a mixed mass composition at the `ankle' in the cosmic-ray spectrum

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    We report a first measurement for ultra-high energy cosmic rays of the correlation between the depth of shower maximum and the signal in the water Cherenkov stations of air-showers registered simultaneously by the fluorescence and the surface detectors of the Pierre Auger Observatory. Such a correlation measurement is a unique feature of a hybrid air-shower observatory with sensitivity to both the electromagnetic and muonic components. It allows an accurate determination of the spread of primary masses in the cosmic-ray flux. Up till now, constraints on the spread of primary masses have been dominated by systematic uncertainties. The present correlation measurement is not affected by systematics in the measurement of the depth of shower maximum or the signal in the water Cherenkov stations. The analysis relies on general characteristics of air showers and is thus robust also with respect to uncertainties in hadronic event generators. The observed correlation in the energy range around the `ankle' at lg‚Ā°(E/eV)=18.5‚ąí19.0\lg(E/{\rm eV})=18.5-19.0 differs significantly from expectations for pure primary cosmic-ray compositions. A light composition made up of proton and helium only is equally inconsistent with observations. The data are explained well by a mixed composition including nuclei with mass A>4A > 4. Scenarios such as the proton dip model, with almost pure compositions, are thus disfavoured as the sole explanation of the ultrahigh-energy cosmic-ray flux at Earth.Comment: Published version. Added journal reference and DOI. Added Report Numbe

    Design and implementation of the AMIGA embedded system for data acquisition

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    The energy spectrum of cosmic rays beyond the turn-down around 10^17 eV as measured with the surface detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory

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    We present a measurement of the cosmic-ray spectrum above 100 PeV using the part of the surface detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory that has a spacing of 750 m. An inflection of the spectrum is observed, confirming the presence of the so-called second-knee feature. The spectrum is then combined with that of the 1500 m array to produce a single measurement of the flux, linking this spectral feature with the three additional breaks at the highest energies. The combined spectrum, with an energy scale set calorimetrically via fluorescence telescopes and using a single detector type, results in the most statistically and systematically precise measurement of spectral breaks yet obtained. These measurements are critical for furthering our understanding of the highest energy cosmic rays

    Reconstruction of events recorded with the surface detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory

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    Cosmic rays arriving at Earth collide with the upper parts of the atmosphere, thereby inducing extensive air showers. When secondary particles from the cascade arrive at the ground, they are measured by surface detector arrays. We describe the methods applied to the measurements of the surface detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory to reconstruct events with zenith angles less than 60o using the timing and signal information recorded using the water-Cherenkov detector stations. In addition, we assess the accuracy of these methods in reconstructing the arrival directions of the primary cosmic ray particles and the sizes of the induced showers

    The rapid atmospheric monitoring system of the Pierre Auger Observatory

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    The Pierre Auger Observatory is a facility built to detect air showers produced by cosmic rays above 10(17) eV. During clear nights with a low illuminated moon fraction, the UV fluorescence light produced by air showers is recorded by optical telescopes at the Observatory. To correct the observations for variations in atmospheric conditions, atmospheric monitoring is performed at regular intervals ranging from several minutes (for cloud identification) to several hours (for aerosol conditions) to several days (for vertical profiles of temperature, pressure, and humidity). In 2009, the monitoring program was upgraded to allow for additional targeted measurements of atmospheric conditions shortly after the detection of air showers of special interest, e. g., showers produced by very high-energy cosmic rays or showers with atypical longitudinal profiles. The former events are of particular importance for the determination of the energy scale of the Observatory, and the latter are characteristic of unusual air shower physics or exotic primary particle types. The purpose of targeted (or 'rapid') monitoring is to improve the resolution of the atmospheric measurements for such events. In this paper, we report on the implementation of the rapid monitoring program and its current status. The rapid monitoring data have been analyzed and applied to the reconstruction of air showers of high interest, and indicate that the air fluorescence measurements affected by clouds and aerosols are effectively corrected using measurements from the regular atmospheric monitoring program. We find that the rapid monitoring program has potential for supporting dedicated physics analyses beyond the standard event reconstruction

    Techniques for measuring aerosol attenuation using the Central Laser Facility at the Pierre Auger Observatory