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Detection of Radio Emission from Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays, Prof. Heino Falcke (Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

May. 29 - 20:30 - 2009

Ultra-high energy cosmic rays are the most energetic particles we are able to measure.
Their origin and nature is still hotly debated. The AUGER observatory promises major
advances, but still new ways to study these enigmatic particles are intensely
investigated. The radio technique for the detection of cosmic particles has seen a major
revival in recent years. This was particularly stimulated by the new digital radio
telescope project LOFAR, which was originally designed to investigate the earliest phase
of the universe but turns out to be an ideal instrument to detect transient radio
signals. Radio emission of ultra-high energy cosmic particles offers a number of
interesting advantages. Since radio waves suffer no attenuation, radio measurements allow
the detection of very distant or highly inclined showers, can be used day and night, and
provide a bolometric measure of the leptonic shower component. In this talk, the LOFAR
telescope will be introduced and particular emphasis will be given to recent results from
LOPES (LOFAR Prototype Station). The experiment now has detected the radio emission from
cosmic rays and confirmed the geosynchrotron effect for extensive air showers. The radio
emission seems to be a faithful tracer of primary particle energy. Future steps will be
the installation of radio antennas at the AUGER experiment to measure the composition of
ultra-high energy cosmic rays and the usage of the LOFAR radio telescope as a cosmic ray
detector. An additional and intriguing application is the search for low-frequency radio
emission from neutrinos and cosmic rays interacting with the lunar regolith. This
promises the best detection limits for particles above 1021 eV and allows one to go
significantly beyond current ground-based detectors.

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