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The Pierre Auger Observatory: A New Era Dawning in for Cosmic Rays – Corbin Covault

Date: Tue. February 3rd, 2004, 11:30 am-12:30 pm
Location: Rockefeller 221

We are apparently at a unique moment in the history of cosmic ray physics. The origin of Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays (UCECR) has persisted as a profound astrophysical mystery for decades. But recently, the two premiere experiments for the detection of UHECR (AGASA and HiRes Fly’s Eye) have reported their best results — the culmination of many years of observations and analysis. These results might have been expected to provide key insight into to a new determination of the origin of cosmic rays, except for one fact: the two experiments, AGASA and HiRes have presented results that apparently contradict each other in several ways. This sets the stage for the next generation experiment, The Pierre Auger Observatory. Even now with 150 out of the 1600 ground stations are installed in Argentina, Auger is already the most sensitive UHE cosmic ray detector in the world. When Auger South in Argentina is completed in 2006, it will be able to collect as much data in one year as previous experiments managed to collect during two decades. First scientific results are due in Summer of 2004. I’ll present a progress report on Auger, summarize some of the particular activities here in our group at Case, and then I will outline ambitious plans to construct a northern version of the Auger observatory in the USA starting in 2007.

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