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Title: Final Report for DoE Grant DE-SC-0011689 - Studies of Particle Astrophysics at the Cosmic Frontier

Our research focuses on the “Cosmic Frontier”, one of the three principle thrusts of the DoE Office of Science High Energy Physics research program. The 2013 community summer study “Snowmass on the Mississippi” catalyzed joint work to describe the status and future prospects of this research thrust. Over its history, the field of cosmic ray studies has provided many discoveries of central importance to the the progress of high energy physics, including the identification of new elementary particles, measurements of particle interactions far above accelerator energies, and the confirmation of neutrino oscillations. In our research we continued this tradition, employing 2 instruments (the Auger Observatory and the HAWC Observatory) to study high energy physics questions using cosmic rays. One approach to addressing particle physics questions at the cosmic frontier is to study the very highest energy cosmic rays. This has been the major thrust of our research effort. The two largest currently operating ultra-high energy cosmic ray (UHECR) observatories are the Pierre Auger Observatory in the Southern hemisphere, covering an area of 3000 km2 and the Telescope Array (TA) in the Northern hemisphere, covering about 700 km2. The observatories sample the cosmic ray air showers at ground level (with 1660more » water Cerenkov stations in the Auger surface detector), and also measure the longitudinal development of air showers on clear moonless nights (approx. 10% of the events) using atmospheric fluorescence detectors. The observatories have recently installed low energy extensions, which provide an overlap with the LHC energy regime. The Auger and TA teams have established joint working groups to discuss experimental methods, compare data analyses and modeling, and perform cross calibrations. Another approach is to study high energy gamma rays. The High Altitude Water Cerenkov (HAWC) gamma-ray observatory is located at 4100 m above sea level near Pico de Orizaba in central Mexico. HAWC is the most sensitive, wide field of view, TeV gamma-ray observatory in operation. After 4 years of construction, operation of the full detector began in March 2015. The HAWC detector contains 300 tanks each 7.3 m in diameter and 4.5 m deep containing pure water. Each water tank is instrumented with 4 upward-viewing photomultiplier tubes mounted at their bottom. The water tanks record the energy deposited by and arrival times of the constituent components of impinging extensive air showers (EAS). The tanks are close-packed to optimize the spatial sampling of the shower front. The distribution of deposited energy across the shower is used for gamma-hadron rejection. Showers with large energy deposit away from the core are rejected as being hadron-initiated. The detector operates at full efficiency above 3 TeV. The angular resolution above that energy approaches 0.1 degree. As the detector operates both day and night, the wide field of view of ~2 sr, allows ~2/3 of the sky to be observed each day.« less
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Michigan Technological Univ., Houghton, MI (United States). Dept. of Physics
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Michigan Technological Univ., Houghton, MI (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), High Energy Physics (HEP) (SC-25)
Country of Publication:
United States
72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS Cosmic Rays; Auger Observatory; HAWC Observatory