LOFAR can also serve as a particle detector

Mar

3

2016

The Lofar -radiotelescoop Drenthe can also serve as a particle detector. This according to research by an international team of astronomers who studied the received radio signals from the telescope and placed their findings Wednesday in Nature.

Lofar eu stations To find out, astronomers studied the 150 days of measurements of known particles showers. A shower of particles arises as a cosmic, elementary particles collide with the atmosphere of the earth. The data show that the particles consist mainly of protons and nuclei of helium atoms. Seem most particles, contrary to what was previously thought, get out of the galaxy and not further away from the universe. With the measured data, the researchers were able to create a new model that can accurately decipher the radio signals of the colliding cosmic particles.

In a message on Astronomie.nl says the first author of the article, Stijn Buitink of the Free University of Brussels, which is thought now that there is a kind of particle accelerator is in our own galaxy. This could be a very big star. In comparison with a particle accelerator as CERN is that star millions of times as strong.

“The particles we have to look very different energies,” Buitink submit to Tweakers out. “The highest even reached such 10²⁰ electron volts. They are becoming increasingly rare, and to measure the highest energies with a certain regularity you also have a very large detector needed. In size Lofar is suitable for measuring particles to about 10¹⁸eV and so there is that factor million from. However, we measure many more particles at lower energies. ”

We wonder how one compared to the Large Hadron Collider is to create CERN since there two particles with the same energy of about 7 tera-electron volts or 7 × 10¹²eV from the opposite direction popping each other, resulting in a maximum impact energy such 14TeV. “On that collisions fly the particles created in the collision in all directions,” said Buitink. “The cosmic particles collide with air molecules more or less stationary. In this case, flying all secondary particles in about the original direction of the cosmic particle further because of momentum conservation. These secondary particles collide again. This creates a chain reaction that eventually millions of particles produced that still fly towards land all together. In that process radio waves is also formed which we measure. ”

Thus it is claimed to do so may very precise measurements Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Nijmegen and high-energy particle physics to businesses using simple FM radio antennas as used in Lofar. The technique can be used easily in other places, such as the project of the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. Here hundreds of radio antennas are put down in an area covering a total of three thousand square kilometers. It is the largest experiment in the world around cosmic particles.

LOFAR is a radio telescope composed of 20,000 small antennas. The core area with about half of all antennas is about two kilometers in diameter, out with a dozen other fields with antennas. Which are in the northern Dutch provinces, and at five locations in Germany, one in Sweden, one in England, one in France and three in Poland.

The paper is in Nature found .

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