Pierre Auger Observatory

AugerPrime Press Release

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AugerPrime Symposium

Celebrating 15 years of achievements and signature ceremony of a new International Agreement for the next 10 years

The Pierre Auger Observatory is the world’s leading science project for the exploration of cosmic rays. More than 500 scientists from 16 countries have been working together since 1998 in the Province of Mendoza, Argentina, to elucidate the origin and properties of the most energetic particles in the Universe, coming to us from the far reaches of the cosmos. The Pierre Auger Observatory measures gigantic showers of relativistic particles that are the result of collisions between the very rare, highest-energy cosmic rays and atomic nuclei of the atmosphere. Properties of such air showers are used to infer the energy, direction, and mass of the cosmic particles.

Results from the Pierre Auger Observatory have brought new fundamental insights into the origin and nature of highest-energy cosmic rays. One of the most exciting results is the experimental proof that at the highest energies (7 orders of magnitude above that of the proton beams circulating in the CERN's Large Hadron Collider) the cosmic-ray flux decreases much faster than at low energies. Data indicate that, in addition to the propagation effect known as GZK cutoff, this flux suppression may reveal the limiting energy of the most powerful cosmic particle accelerators. An even more detailed measurement of the nature of cosmic particles at the highest energies is crucial to understand the mechanisms responsible for this decrease, and to identify the astrophysical sites violent enough to accelerate particles to such tremendous energies.

The AugerPrime upgrade to the Observatory enhances the 1660 existing surface detectors (water tanks sensitive to Cherenkov light generated by the shower products) with new scintillation detectors, so that electromagnetic and muonic shower particles can be separated more efficiently. This in turn, together with smaller area of buried muon detectors, improves the determination of the mass of the primary cosmic rays, otherwise not directly measurable. Faster and more powerful electronics also facilitates the readout of the new detector components and enhances the overall performance of the Observatory elements.

A symposium, held on November 15-16, 2015 gathers collaborators and science funding agency representatives for the signing of a new international agreement for continued operation of the Pierre Auger Observatory until 2025. This will provide the basis for doubling the present statistics with the upgraded Observatory, and for solving the long-standing puzzle of the origin of the most energetic particles in the Universe.


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A prototype station of AugerPrime in the Argentinian Pampa: The Water Cherenkov Detector containing 12000 liters of water (bottom) is augmented by a 4 square meter scintillation detector (top) to enhance the particle identification capabilities. Headquarter of the Pierre Auger Observatory in Malargüe, Province of Mendoza, in Argentina.
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Group picture of the participants of the AugerPrime Symposium. AugerPrime Symposium.
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AugerPrime Symposium. From left to right: Prof. Karl Heinz Kampert, spokesperon of the Pierre Auger Observatory, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany; Alberto Lamagna, Gerente de Área de Investigación y Aplicaciones No Nucleares de la Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA), Argentina; Dr. Lino Barañao, Ministro de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva; Juan Antonio Agulles, Intendente del Departamento de Malargüe, Argentina; Prof. Fernando Ferroni, Presidente of the Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Italy; Ing. Julio Cobos, Senador Nacional Electo por la Provincia de Mendoza, Argentina; Ing. Rolando Baldasso, Ministro de Infraestructura de la Provincia de Mendoza. Signature ceremony. Were present from left to right: Prof. Mario-Pimenta, LIP, Portugal; Dr. Lino Barañao, Ministro de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva; Dr. Carola Dobrigkeit, UNICAMP, Brazil; Prof. Fernando Ferroni, INFN, Italy; Prof. Johannes Bluemer, KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany; Jan Ridky, ELI, Czech Republik; Alberto Lamagna, CNEA, Argentina; Dr. Reynald Pain, CNRS - IN2P3, Paris, France; Prof. Stan Bentvelsen, Nikhef, Netherlands; Ing. Rolando Baldasso, Ministro de Infraestructura de la Provincia de Mendoza.


Material: Pictures above (high-resweb-HD), individual pictures of signatory (high-res, web-HD).