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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’ (EAS) 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 Murchison Widefield Array in outback Western Australia aims to detect these bursts of radio-wave radiation.

Particle detectors are being developed at the University of Manchester, UK, in order to identify EAS and trigger radio observations. A prototype detector will be deployed in late 2018 – this project will involve analysing the first data from this detector, and optimising the layout of a planned array of eight such detectors to be constructed during 2019. This will be aided by the simulation program CORSIKA, and pave the way for a future project with the Square Kilometre Array.



Mr Brian Crosse

Instrument Engineer – Signal Chain

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