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Breaking News from the Auger Observatory – Corbin Covault

Date: Thu. November 29th, 2007, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm
Location: Rockefeller 301

The world’s largest cosmic ray observatory has recently reported a new result that represents a major step forward in our understanding of the origins of the highest energy cosmic rays. The astrophysical origins of the highest energy cosmic rays have remained a persistent mystery for decades. Where in the universe do these particles come from? How do they obtain such enormous energies? Now, we seem to be on the verge of getting a new handle on these questions. The Pierre Auger Observatory, in Malargue, Argentina, has been operating since 2004, and already we have some clues, including the energy spectrum and limits on photon flux that strongly suggest an extragalactic origin for the highest energy cosmic rays. But quite recently, the unparalleled collecting area of Auger has been brought to bear on the question of potential correlations between particular astrophysical objects and cosmic ray arrival directions. In this talk, I will summarize our main correlation result and what this implies for the origins of cosmic rays. I will also describe plans for the future that we expect will lead to unambiguous identifications of individual astrophysical objects as sources.

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