Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Catch a Falling Ray

15.01.2004


The mention of Argentina conjures any number of exotic or dramatic images ... Eva Peron ... dancing the tango ... gauchos riding the plains ... falling high-energy cosmic rays.

... mehr zu:
»Auger »Matthews »Observatory

Well, perhaps high-energy cosmic rays haven’t worked their way into the travel brochures or spawned a Broadway musical just yet. Nevertheless, these rays – tiny particles from space that regularly pelt the earth – are the subject of one of the largest-scale scientific studies of its kind ever conducted, and one of the first parts of this project is now up and running in Argentina.

On a massive area of open plains just east of the Andes Mountains – a region known as Pampa Amarilla – a group of LSU professors, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students have been working on this $100 million cosmic-ray study with a broad international coalition at the new Pierre Auger Observatory.


The international coalition consists of some 250 scientists from 14 countries. The Auger facility, when completed, will span some 1,200 square miles and include more than 1,600 water tank detectors and several other structures, including a specialized observatory with 24 optical telescopes. The facility is managed by scientists from the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago.

With the recent commissioning of its 100th water tank detector, the Auger Observatory became the largest cosmic-ray experiment ever conducted. It continues to expand, and completion of the entire Argentina facility is expected in 2005.

LSU Associate Professor of Physics James Matthews, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy Chair Roger McNeil, postdoctoral researchers Rishi Meyhandan and Troy Porter, and several graduate students are helping to build this new facility, analyze the data gathered there and develop equipment and computer software and programming to aid in the experiments.

The background work on the project began more than 10 years ago, but the Argentinian facility only recently began operating and collecting data. Indeed, the LSU group is now analyzing the first round of information gathered at the facility.

A Cosmic Mystery

The project is large in scope because high-energy cosmic rays have baffled scientists for years and solving the mystery behind them requires a massive effort, explains Matthews. The structure of lower-energy rays – protons, nuclei, etc. – has been understood for some time, but scientists "don’t even know what the highest energy rays are or where they come from," he says.

"The only thing we know for sure about the high-energy rays is that they exist," Matthews says. "So, the best way to understand them is to collect and measure them ... let them tell us what they are and where they are from."

According to Matthews, cosmic rays were discovered more than a century ago. They strike the Earth from all different directions, all of the time, and they come in a range of "energies" that measure not only how fast they move, but how much "punch" they pack. Lower-energy rays are common, but high-energy rays are uncommon and have energy levels so high that they cannot be produced on earth.

"The highest energy rays are more than a billion times more energetic than any particles that can be produced in terrestrial (particle) accelerators," Matthews says. "It’s difficult to even imagine how to get particles to such energies."

Rare rays

Because the particles are so rare, collecting or studying them individually ? with a detector in space, for instance ? would take "something very huge," Matthews says.

"If Tiger Stadium were floating in space, it might catch one every 20 years or so," he says.

However, Matthews says, there are two dependable ways to detect them. Each makes use of the fact that, when a high-energy cosmic ray strikes the earth’s atmosphere, it blasts apart into a shower of particles that fall to the ground, primarily in the form of electrons.

First, it is possible to observe the shower that develops in the atmosphere when the rays hit. Matthews says that the shower produces a weak fluorescence – "a line of faintly glowing atmosphere" – that can be observed with the special "Fly’s-Eye" fluorescence telescopes that observe the sky in all directions. Second, it is possible to collect or detect the falling particles using water-tank detectors widely dispersed on the ground.

However, in order for these methods to work for their project, Matthews says, certain criteria had to be met. The only way for a telescope to see the very brief, faint light of an atmosphere shower is on very dark, clear nights, meaning that the location could be nowhere near a major city. In addition, in order to successfully collect the falling particles, it was necessary to find a location with miles of available space where the numerous collection instruments could be placed and spaced appropriately.

The location in Western Argentina fit the bill nicely, Matthews says. In addition, there are a number of South American scientists with experience in studying cosmic rays who are taking part in the project. Thus, the Auger Observatory was established.

Nevertheless, Matthews explains, in order to make sure the project can view the entire celestial sky, a second facility will be required in the Northern Hemisphere. Two possible sites in remote areas of Utah and Colorado have been identified, but the Northern observatory won’t be up-and-running for a few more years.

"These highest-energy cosmic rays are messengers from the extreme universe," says Nobel Prize-winner Jim Cronin of the University of Chicago, who helped conceive the Auger experiment. "They represent a great opportunity for discoveries."

Funding for the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina has come from 14 member nations. The United States contributes 20 percent of the total cost, with support provided by the Office of Science of the Department of Energy and by the National Science Foundation. Further information on the project is available at http://www.auger.org.


Rob Anderson
LSU Media Relations
225-578-3871

Rob Anderson | LSU
Weitere Informationen:
http://appl003.lsu.edu/unv002.nsf/9faf000d8eb58d4986256abe00720a51/1dbd4a6ffed8dc0986256e1600725d37?OpenDocument
http://www.auger.org

Weitere Berichte zu: Auger Matthews Observatory

Weitere Nachrichten aus der Kategorie Physik Astronomie:

nachricht Ein neues Experiment zum Verständnis der Dunklen Materie
14.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht Quanten-Übertragung auf Knopfdruck
14.06.2018 | Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zürich)

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Physik Astronomie >>>

Die aktuellsten Pressemeldungen zum Suchbegriff Innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 in Shanghai

Die AchemAsia geht in ihr viertes Jahrzehnt und bricht auf zu neuen Ufern: Das International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production findet vom 21. bis 23. Mai 2019 in Shanghai, China statt. Gleichzeitig erhält die Veranstaltung ein aktuelles Profil: Die elfte Ausgabe fokussiert auf Themen, die für Chinas Prozessindustrie besonders relevant sind, und legt den Schwerpunkt auf Nachhaltigkeit und Innovation.

1989 wurde die AchemAsia als Spin-Off der ACHEMA ins Leben gerufen, um die Bedürfnisse der sich damals noch entwickelnden Iindustrie in China zu erfüllen. Seit...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: Li-Fi erstmals für das industrielle Internet der Dinge getestet

Mit einer Abschlusspräsentation im BMW Werk München wurde das BMBF-geförderte Projekt OWICELLS erfolgreich abgeschlossen. Dabei wurde eine Li-Fi Kommunikation zu einem mobilen Roboter in einer 5x5m² Fertigungszelle demonstriert, der produktionsübliche Vorgänge durchführt (Teile schweißen, umlegen und prüfen). Die robuste, optische Drahtlosübertragung beruht auf räumlicher Diversität, d.h. Daten werden von mehreren LEDs und mehreren Photodioden gleichzeitig gesendet und empfangen. Das System kann Daten mit mehr als 100 Mbit/s und fünf Millisekunden Latenz übertragen.

Moderne Produktionstechniken in der Automobilindustrie müssen flexibler werden, um sich an individuelle Kundenwünsche anpassen zu können. Forscher untersuchen...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: ALMA entdeckt Trio von Baby-Planeten rund um neugeborenen Stern

Neuartige Technik, um die jüngsten Planeten in unserer Galaxis zu finden

Zwei unabhängige Astronomenteams haben mit ALMA überzeugende Belege dafür gefunden, dass sich drei junge Planeten im Orbit um den Säuglingsstern HD 163296...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industrie & Wirtschaft
Veranstaltungen

Künstliche Intelligenz – Schafft der Mensch seine Arbeit ab?

15.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Internationale Konferenz zur Asteroidenforschung in Garching

13.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Meteoriteneinschläge und Spektralfarben: HITS bei Explore Science 2018

11.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

VideoLinks
Wissenschaft & Forschung
Weitere VideoLinks im Überblick >>>
 
Aktuelle Beiträge

EMAG auf der AMB: Hochproduktive Lösungen für die vernetzte Automotive-Produktion

15.06.2018 | Messenachrichten

AchemAsia 2019 in Shanghai

15.06.2018 | Messenachrichten

Dem Fettfinger zu Leibe rücken: Neuer Nanolack soll Antifingerprint-Oberflächen schaffen

15.06.2018 | Materialwissenschaften

Weitere B2B-VideoLinks
IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics