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Title: Combining Cherenkov and scintillation detector observations with simulations to deduce the nature of high-energy radiation excesses during thunderstorms

Abstract

We present co-observations of three strong count-rate enhancements associated with thunderstorms observed over 17 April 2015 to 23 September 2015 by the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) array, and a suite of small scintillation detectors comprising the Gamma-ray Observations During Overhead Thunderstorms (GODOT) instrument. Because the HAWC array is most sensitive to ionizing radiation at high energies (>100 MeV), and the small scintillation detectors are most sensitive to ionizing radiation at low energies (3–20 MeV), we investigate using the ratio of these detector counting rates variations to infer spectral characteristics of these enhancements, and understand the physics behind these thunderstorm accelerator mechanisms. We consider two extreme mechanisms that can produce these enhancements: a point source of relativistic runaway electron avalanches (RREA), and modification of the background cosmic-ray spectrum (MOS) from an electric field profile that is everywhere below the RREA threshold. We simulate the responses of HAWC and the GODOT 12.7 cm × Ø12.7 cm NaI(Tl) scintillator and show that their ratio can discern between the two models, and that the observed thunderstorm rate enhancements are incompatible with the spectra from a point source of RREA, but consistent with our model of MOS for thunderstorm potentials within the range ofmore » –250 to 250 MV.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program
OSTI Identifier:
1558169
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1569622
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-19-25406
Journal ID: ISSN 2470-0010; PRVDAQ; 043021
Grant/Contract Number:  
20170179ER; 89233218CNA000001
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Physical Review D
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Physical Review D Journal Volume: 100 Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 2470-0010
Publisher:
American Physical Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; Thunderstorms; Lightning; Particles; HAWC

Citation Formats

Bowers, Gregory S., Blaine, William, Shao, Xuan-Min, Dingus, Brenda, Smith, David M., Schneider, Michael, Martinez-McKinney, Forest, McCarthy, Michael P., BenZvi, Segev, Nellen, Lukas, and Fraija, Nissim. Combining Cherenkov and scintillation detector observations with simulations to deduce the nature of high-energy radiation excesses during thunderstorms. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.100.043021.
Bowers, Gregory S., Blaine, William, Shao, Xuan-Min, Dingus, Brenda, Smith, David M., Schneider, Michael, Martinez-McKinney, Forest, McCarthy, Michael P., BenZvi, Segev, Nellen, Lukas, & Fraija, Nissim. Combining Cherenkov and scintillation detector observations with simulations to deduce the nature of high-energy radiation excesses during thunderstorms. United States. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.100.043021.
Bowers, Gregory S., Blaine, William, Shao, Xuan-Min, Dingus, Brenda, Smith, David M., Schneider, Michael, Martinez-McKinney, Forest, McCarthy, Michael P., BenZvi, Segev, Nellen, Lukas, and Fraija, Nissim. Wed . "Combining Cherenkov and scintillation detector observations with simulations to deduce the nature of high-energy radiation excesses during thunderstorms". United States. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.100.043021.
@article{osti_1558169,
title = {Combining Cherenkov and scintillation detector observations with simulations to deduce the nature of high-energy radiation excesses during thunderstorms},
author = {Bowers, Gregory S. and Blaine, William and Shao, Xuan-Min and Dingus, Brenda and Smith, David M. and Schneider, Michael and Martinez-McKinney, Forest and McCarthy, Michael P. and BenZvi, Segev and Nellen, Lukas and Fraija, Nissim},
abstractNote = {We present co-observations of three strong count-rate enhancements associated with thunderstorms observed over 17 April 2015 to 23 September 2015 by the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) array, and a suite of small scintillation detectors comprising the Gamma-ray Observations During Overhead Thunderstorms (GODOT) instrument. Because the HAWC array is most sensitive to ionizing radiation at high energies (>100 MeV), and the small scintillation detectors are most sensitive to ionizing radiation at low energies (3–20 MeV), we investigate using the ratio of these detector counting rates variations to infer spectral characteristics of these enhancements, and understand the physics behind these thunderstorm accelerator mechanisms. We consider two extreme mechanisms that can produce these enhancements: a point source of relativistic runaway electron avalanches (RREA), and modification of the background cosmic-ray spectrum (MOS) from an electric field profile that is everywhere below the RREA threshold. We simulate the responses of HAWC and the GODOT 12.7 cm × Ø12.7 cm NaI(Tl) scintillator and show that their ratio can discern between the two models, and that the observed thunderstorm rate enhancements are incompatible with the spectra from a point source of RREA, but consistent with our model of MOS for thunderstorm potentials within the range of –250 to 250 MV.},
doi = {10.1103/PhysRevD.100.043021},
journal = {Physical Review D},
issn = {2470-0010},
number = 4,
volume = 100,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {8}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1103/PhysRevD.100.043021

Figures / Tables:

FIG. 1 FIG. 1: The 300 HAWC WCDs indicated by circles and the relative location of the GODOT detector (red star) during 2015, April 17th to September 21st.

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    Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.