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Measuring the cosmic-ray energy spectrum, composition, and anisotropy at PeV scales using the IceCube Observatory

Author / Creator
Bourbeau, James, author
Available as
Online
Physical
Summary

Since the discovery of cosmic rays over one hundred years ago, many experiments have studied their properties. However, a definitive answer to the questions of where cosmic rays originate and how t...

Since the discovery of cosmic rays over one hundred years ago, many experiments have studied their properties. However, a definitive answer to the questions of where cosmic rays originate and how they are produced is still not known. Over the last several decades, a much more detailed understanding of high energy cosmic rays has begun to materialize. In particular, the cosmic-ray energy spectrum, with its transitions at 3 PeV (the "knee") and 3 EeV (the "ankle"), has been extensively investigated. Based on magnetic confinement arguments, it's generally believed that the energy range between the knee and ankle is where the transition from Galactic to extragalactic sources of cosmic rays. The ability to distinguish between high energy cosmic rays of different composition and study the relative mass abundances of cosmic rays in this transition region can provide invaluable insight in answering the open questions surrounding the origins of cosmic rays. This work focuses on measuring the composition-resolved cosmic-ray energy spectrum at and above the all-particle knee using one year of data collected by the IceCube Observatory. Sepcifically, we focus on making a two mass group spectrum measurement from 10^6.4 GeV to 10^7.8 GeV. The first mass group, referred to as the "light" mass group, is modeled using proton and helium cosmic rays, while the second, "heavy" mass group, is modeled using oxygen and iron cosmic rays. We observe a clear softening of the light spectrum near 3 PeV, while the energy spectrum for the heavy mass group follows a power-law like structure with a spectral index of ~2.7 throughout the entire energy range considered. The observed transition from a primarily light to a heavy-dominant spectrum takes place near 10^7.1 GeV. This feature is characteristic of a potential rigidity-dependent cutoff, or Peters cycle. The change in relative mass abundance could also indicate a possible transition in the source population of cosmic rays. In addition, a study to determine whether or not the light, heavy, or all-particle cosmic-ray energy spectra vary as a function of arrival direction is also presented. This marks the first time an analysis of this kind has been conducted using the IceCube Observatory. No statistically significant spectrum deviations were observed. The results from this analysis can be used to set a limit on the range of possible spectral deviations.

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Creator
by James Bourbeau
Format
Books
Publication
  • 2019
Physical Details
  • xi, 141 leaves : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
OCLC
on1114602770, on1101179401

  • Advisor: Justin A. Vandenbroucke.
  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin--Madison 2019.
  • Print reproduction.
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