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Calibration of the Pierre Auger Observatory fluorescence detectors and the effect on measurements




Gookin, Ben, author
Harton, John, advisor
Toki, Walter, committee member
Buchanan, Kristen, committee member
Menoni, Carmen, committee member

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The Pierre Auger Observatory is a high-energy cosmic ray observatory located in Malargue, Mendoza, Argentina. It is used to probe the highest energy particles in the Universe, with energies greater than 10¹⁸ eV, which strike the Earth constantly. The observatory uses two techniques to observe the air shower initiated by a cosmic ray: a surface detector composed of an array of more than 1600 water Cherenkov tanks covering 3000 km², and 27 nitrogen fluorescence telescopes overlooking this array. The Cherenkov detectors run all the time and therefore have high statistics on the air showers. The fluorescence detectors run only on clear moonless nights, but observe the longitudinal development of the air shower and make a calorimetric measure of its energy. The energy measurement from the the fluorescence detectors is used to cross calibrate the surface detectors, and makes the measurements made by the Auger Observatory surface detector highly model-independent. The calibration of the fluorescence detectors is then of the utmost importance to the measurements of the Observatory. Described here are the methods of the absolute and multi-wavelength calibration of the fluorescence detectors, and improvements in each leading to a reduction in calibration uncertainties to 4% and 3.5%, respectively. Also presented here are the effects of introducing a new, and more detailed, multi-wavelength calibration on the fluorescence detector energy estimation and the depth of the air shower maximum measurement, leading to a change of 1±0.03% in the absolute energy scale at 10¹⁸ eV, and a negligible change in the measurement on shower maximum.


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cosmic rays
Pierre Auger


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