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1.
Study of downward Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes with the surface detector of the Pierre Auger Observatory
Roberta Colalillo, Andrej Filipčič, Jon Paul Lundquist, Shima Ujjani Shivashankara, Samo Stanič, Serguei Vorobiov, Danilo Zavrtanik, Marko Zavrtanik, 2023, published scientific conference contribution

Abstract: The surface detector (SD) of the Pierre Auger Observatory, consisting of 1660 water-Cherenkov detectors (WCDs), covers 3000 km2 in the Argentinian pampa. Thanks to the high efficiency of WCDs in detecting gammarays, it represents a unique instrument for studying downward Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs) over a large area. Peculiar events, likely related to downward TGFs, were detected at the Auger Observatory. Their experimental signature and time evolution are very different from those of a shower produced by an ultrahigh-energy cosmic ray. They happen in coincidence with low thunderclouds and lightning, and their large deposited energy at the ground is compatible with that of a standard downward TGF with the source a few kilometers above the ground. A new trigger algorithm to increase the TGF-like event statistics was installed in the whole array. The study of the performance of the new trigger system during the lightning season is ongoing and will provide a handle to develop improved algorithms to implement in the Auger upgraded electronic boards. The available data sample, even if small, can give important clues about the TGF production models, in particular, the shape of WCD signals. Moreover, the SD allows us to observe more than one point in the TGF beam, providing information on the emission angle.
Keywords: Pierre Auger Observatory, ultra-high energy cosmic rays, surface detectors, extensive air shower, terrestrial gamma-ray flashes
Published in RUNG: 23.01.2024; Views: 523; Downloads: 6
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2.
Downward Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes at the Pierre Auger Observatory?
R. Colalillo, Andrej Filipčič, Jon Paul Lundquist, Samo Stanič, Serguei Vorobiov, Danilo Zavrtanik, Marko Zavrtanik, Lukas Zehrer, 2022, published scientific conference contribution

Abstract: At the Pierre Auger Observatory, designed primarily to study ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, phenomena related to atmospheric electricity are also observed. Particularly, events have been detected with the surface detector, characterized by long-lasting signals (tens of microseconds) and event footprints much larger (up to 200 km2) than those produced by the highest energy cosmic rays. Moreover, some of them appear to be accompanied by smaller events occurring in the same area within about 1 ms and probably produced by the same phenomenon. A previously reported correlation with the World Wide Lightning Location Network, as well as the observation of very low-altitude clouds, confirm that such events are related to thunderstorms. An ad-hoc reconstruction points to high-energy particles being produced very close to the ground, suggesting that they originate from electrons accelerated to relativistic energies in strong electric fields inside low clouds, as is the case for terrestrial gamma-ray flashes above thunderstorms. A clear explanation of the observed phenomenon is hindered by two facts. One is that the rate of such events, detected serendipitously, is very small (less than 2 events/year) and decreases further after optimization of the surface detector trigger for low-energy shower-events. The second is that most events show a puzzling lack of signals in the central part of the footprint. We have studied in detail both effects and will present such studies here. We developed a strategy for a dedicated trigger to enhance the detection efficiency for these events associated with atmospheric-electricity events.
Keywords: Pierre Auger Observatory, surface detection, ultra-high energy, cosmic rays, photons, electrons, gamma-ray flashes, lightning
Published in RUNG: 29.09.2023; Views: 722; Downloads: 6
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