Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
HomeScienceUnleashing the potential of the new problem in the proton spectrum

Unleashing the potential of the new problem in the proton spectrum


While measuring the spectrum spanning from 50 TeV to just over 1 petaelectronvolt (PeV), the Tata Institute of Fundamental ResearchThe GRAPES-3 experiment in Ooty, India, has found a new feature in the proton spectrum of cosmic rays with an energy of about 166 TeV..

A view of the GRAPES-3 experiment in Ooty, India, depicted with a simulated cosmic ray shower. Image credit: Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

The observed feature raises the possibility of reevaluating knowledge about the origins of cosmic rays, the processes that accelerate them and how they propagate through the galaxy.

Pravata K. Mohanty, a faculty member at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai and principal investigator of the GRAPES-3 experiment, led the study. The observations were published in Physical examination letters.

The discovery of cosmic rays occurred more than a century ago. Cosmic rays are believed to be the most energetic particles in the universe. Cosmic rays continuously and almost uniformly bombard the Earth from all directions at a constant rate from space. Cosmic rays penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and release a shower of particles that fall to the ground almost as fast as light. Rain particles are made up of electrons, photons, muons, protons, neutrons and other types of particles.

Cosmic ray observations span a surprisingly large energy range (108 to 10twenty eV). A power law describes how the flux of cosmic ray particles decreases sharply with energy.

A kink in the cosmic ray proton of about 3 PeV known as the “Knee,” discovered about seven decades ago, is believed to be the maximum energy for cosmic ray acceleration within galactic sources.

The single power law description of the cosmic ray spectrum up to the Knee energy has been proposed for a long time and is explained by various models. This observation from the GRAPES-3 experiment shows a new feature above 100 TeV and below the knee.

With the help of a large-area muon detector and a dense array of plastic scintillation detectors, the data collection area of ​​the GRAPES-3 experiment was several thousand times larger than that of the space detectors. This allowed for more comprehensive analysis of cosmic rays above 100 TeV, where spatial measurements are imprecise due to low statistics.

Fahim Varsi and other team members analyzed a subset of about 8 million cosmic ray shower events recorded by these detectors, measuring the cosmic ray spectrum with CPU-intensive computer simulations.

Magazine reference:

Varsi, F., et al. (2024) Evidence for a hardening in the cosmic ray proton spectrum at around 166 TeV observed by the GRAPES-3 experiment. Physical examination letters. doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.132.051002.

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