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Constraining the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays with multi-messenger data

Oikonomou, F; (2014) Constraining the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays with multi-messenger data. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are cosmic rays with energy exceeding 10¹⁸ electronvolts. The sources of these particles remain unknown despite decades of research. This thesis presents a series of studies aimed at constraining the sources of UHECRs both directly by studying their observed arrival directions and indirectly through their expected secondary gamma-ray signatures. An analysis of the arrival direction distribution of the highest energy cosmic rays detected at the Pierre Auger Observatory is presented. The aim of the study was to determine whether the arrival directions of observed UHECRs follow the distribution of nearby extragalactic sources, which is expected if UHECRs are light nuclei of extragalactic origin. A departure from isotropy at the 95% level is observed but no clear correlation with the extragalactic matter distribution is found. The sensitivity of upcoming UHECR experiments, with an order of magnitude higher annual exposure than current experiments, to the expected UHECR anisotropy has been investigated through simulations. It is shown, that with five years of data from such a detector an anisotropy should be detectable at the 99% level as long as the composition is proton dominated. In a scenario where the UHECR source distribution is strongly clustered, similar to the distribution of galaxy clusters, an anisotropy at the 99.9% level is expected even if the fraction of protons at the highest energies is as low as 30%. Constraints on the sources of UHECRs may also come from the secondary particles that UHECRs produce during their propagation. A study of the expected secondary gamma-ray signatures of UHECR accelerators embedded in magnetised environments is presented. The secondary gamma-ray emission expected in this model is shown to be consistent with the spectra of a number of extreme blazars. It is shown that this model is more robust to variations of the overall extragalactic magnetic eld strength than other proposed scenarios, which is appealing in view of the large uncertainty surrounding the strength and con guration of extragalactic magnetic fi elds.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Constraining the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays with multi-messenger data
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Chemistry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1450249
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