The Rapid Atmospheric Monitoring System of the Pierre Auger Observatory

Journal of Instrumentation (Impact Factor: 1.4). 08/2012; 7. DOI: 10.1088/1748-0221/7/09/P09001
Source: arXiv


The Pierre Auger Observatory is a facility built to detect air showers
produced by cosmic rays above 10^17 eV. During clear nights with a low
illuminated moon fraction, the UV fluorescence light produced by air showers is
recorded by optical telescopes at the Observatory. To correct the observations
for variations in atmospheric conditions, atmospheric monitoring is performed
at regular intervals ranging from several minutes (for cloud identification) to
several hours (for aerosol conditions) to several days (for vertical profiles
of temperature, pressure, and humidity). In 2009, the monitoring program was
upgraded to allow for additional targeted measurements of atmospheric
conditions shortly after the detection of air showers of special interest,
e.g., showers produced by very high-energy cosmic rays or showers with atypical
longitudinal profiles. The former events are of particular importance for the
determination of the energy scale of the Observatory, and the latter are
characteristic of unusual air shower physics or exotic primary particle types.
The purpose of targeted (or "rapid") monitoring is to improve the resolution of
the atmospheric measurements for such events. In this paper, we report on the
implementation of the rapid monitoring program and its current status. The
rapid monitoring data have been analyzed and applied to the reconstruction of
air showers of high interest, and indicate that the air fluorescence
measurements affected by clouds and aerosols are effectively corrected using
measurements from the regular atmospheric monitoring program. We find that the
rapid monitoring program has potential for supporting dedicated physics
analyses beyond the standard event reconstruction.

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