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Radio Detection of Extreme Energy Collisions

Abstract: Over the last decade radio detection methods have begun to play a crucial role in direct observation of the highest energy particle collisions. The emphasis of this talk will be on the Radio Frequency detection techniques that have enabled these measurements and their prospects for the future. Detection of extensive air showers proceeds by a radio mechanism in analog to visible shower observation via Nitrogen fluorescence: molecular bremstrahlung emission at microwave frequencies. Since the atmosphere is almost completely transparent at certain microwave wavelengths, and operation is insensitive to light background or weather, an order of magnitude better livetime may be expected compared with fluorescent observation, with potentially lower systematic energy uncertainty. A satellite dish-based system has been operated in Hawaii and a follow-on prototype system is described that will be deployed at the Auger Observatory in autumn 2009. Radio may be the only practical means to measure the so-called GZK neutrinos, whose existence is a direct prediction of propagation of UHE cosmic ray particles through the cosmic microwave background. Experiments using these methods to search for such UHE neutrinos via completely coherent UHF radio emission in Antarctica (ANITA and IceRay) will be presented.
Speaker: Gary S. Varner - University of Hawaii
Speaker Bio: Gary Varner is a Professor of Physics at the University of Hawaii and directs his research interests in instrumentation development for particle and astroparticle physics through the Instrumentation Development Laboratory, which he founded and leads. Recently his team successfully developed the custom RF trigger and digitization electronics flown on the ANITA payload. Working toward the future, he is leading an effort to further improve low-power RF recording technology for a large volume terrestrial radio UHE neutrino detector at the South Pole. Remarkably similar sampling and readout technology is being concurrently explored for Super B-factory and ILC detector pixel vertex detectors, future particle identification techniques, as well as a semiconductor multiple Compton x-ray telescope.
Poster Link: Poster