Cosmic rays are the highest-energy particles in nature. Mostly protons, they reach energies more than a million times higher than that achieved at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Produced by something in the universe, when a cosmic ray hits the top of the atmosphere, it generates a huge ‘extensive air shower’ of secondary particles, some of which reach ground level. This gives off a burst of radio-waves lasting less than a microsecond, allowing radio telescopes operating at the highest time resolution to study these rare particles.
The project will involve simulating the radio emission using a program called ‘CORSIKA’. The goal is to determine what the bursts of radio waves would look like to the Murchison Widefield Array, a radio telescope in Murchison Shire, WA, and how best to detect them. Key issues to explore would be: what is the best frequency to look at? And – how energetic do the cosmic rays have to be in order to generate a detectable radio pulse? The project would form part of design studies for the Square Kilometre Array’s High Energy Cosmic Particles Focus Group.
Dr Marcin Sokolowski
Research FellowRead More