Highest Energy Physics with the Auger Observatory

Project: Research project

Project Details


High-energy cosmic rays are important cosmic messengers that are producing new insights about extreme processes in the universe. The Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory has measured millions of cosmic rays. Some of the most interesting are protons or atomic nuclei, whose arrival directions are correlated with the large-scale distribution of matter within 250 million light years of the Earth and thereby reveal which astrophysical objects are capable of producing these extremely high energy particles. A primary advantage of the Auger Observatory in studying cosmic rays is its complementary ground detector array, which detects the cascade of particles produced in the atmosphere by the parent cosmic ray, and ultraviolet telescopes, which image the pattern of nitrogen fluorescence generated by the passage of the particle cascade through the atmosphere. Combining these two techniques provides the best possible measurements of these rarest of particles.

The Auger group at Pennsylvania State University has been involved with the Auger project since 1992. With this award they will continue their work to resolve the issues involved in utilizing the two detection techniques and exploit the Auger measurements to deduce properties of particle interactions at energies far beyond the reach of laboratory studies on Earth.

The Pennsylvania State University group will continue their established series of popular week-long summer workshops for high school teachers that are based around new results in cosmology and high-energy astrophysics. The concepts of basic college physics are interwoven into the curriculum, so that teachers strengthen their working knowledge of their core curriculum while getting an inside look at what is happening at the forefront of astrophysics research. The teachers are provided with knowledge and tools to use in their classrooms, to inspire and engage their students, and to enrich their understanding of the scientific method.

Effective start/end date8/1/127/31/17


  • National Science Foundation: $832,109.00


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