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Composition of cosmic rays at the extreme energies

Working group members :

Presentation of the research subject :

The Auger project carried out by an international collaboration joining together 18 nations aims at detecting the cosmic rays of energy higher than 10^19 eV. The existence of these cosmic rays is a mystery to date. Indeed, to allow a cosmic ray of such ultra-high energy coming from an astrophysical source (supernovae, active galactic nuclei, radio-galaxy lobes, etc...) to be detected on Earth, several conditions must be fulfilled : Taking into account these three conditions, it is difficult to explain today the arrival on the Earth of these highest energy cosmic rays. Many theoretical models, more or less exotic, of the origin of cosmic rays have been proposed (gamma ray bursts, decay of superheavy particles - relics of the Big Bang, ...) to explain the results provided by the past experiments (HiRes, AGASA, ...). These models predict different observational signatures, mainly at the level of the cosmic ray composition. Better statistics of the cosmic rays at these energies provided by the Pierre Auger Observatory, together with a more precise measurement of their characteristics (direction, energy and especially nature) will make it possible to choose between these different models.

Followed strategy :

Study of the simulated events induced by protons, iron nuclei and photons: Fine-tuning of the discriminating criteria after the reconstruction of simulated events: Application of the discriminating criteria to the data of the Pierre Auger Observatory and composition analysis :

Results and public presentations :