Physics Club: Angela Olinto, University of Chicago, “The Extreme Energy Cosmic Frontier”

Event time: 
Monday, April 11, 2016 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Sloane Physics Laboratory (SPL), 57 See map
217 Prospect St.
New Haven, CT 06511
(Location is wheelchair accessible)
Event description: 

Thanks to giant extensive air-showers observatories, such as the Pierre Auger Observatory and the Telescope Array (TA), we now know that the sources of ultrahigh energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are extragalactic. We also know that either they interact with the CMB as predicted or they run out of energy at the same energy scale of the CMB interactions! Their composition is either surprising (dominated by heavier nuclei at the highest energies) or the hadronic interactions at 100 TeV are not a standard extrapolation of LHC interaction energies. Hints of anisotropies begin to appear as energies reach 60 EeV, just when statistics become very limited.

Basic questions remain unanswered: What generates such extremely energetic particles that reach above 10^20 eV (100 EeV)? Where do they come from? How do they reach these energies? What are they? How do they interact on their way to Earth and with the Earth’s atmosphere?

In addition to an increase in statistics of UHECRs observations, neutrino and gamma-ray observations should help resolve the puzzle. We are currently building a super pressure balloon payload to inform future space missions designed to unveil the extreme energy cosmic frontier, the Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO).