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Title: Towards a measurement of the cosmic ray electron spectrum at the highest energies, using the next-generation Cherenkov Array CTA
Author: Parsons, Robert Daniel
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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The highly relativistic particles that arrive at the Earth, the long studied yet enigmatic cosmic rays, include >TeV electrons as well the dominant protons and nuclei. As during their diffusion in the interstellar medium these electrons undergo severe energy losses through both synchrotron and inverse Compton processes they are hence only able to travel relatively short distances. Therefore measurement of the spectrum of these electrons is able to give an important insight into the local distribution of cosmic ray sources. The use of IACTs to measure the highest energy electrons has already been pio- neered with the current generation of instruments such as HESS. This thesis describes the steps required to build upon these results and produce a measurement of the highest energy (>10 TeV) electrons, by use of the next generation ground-based gamma-ray telescope the Cherenkov Telescope Array. The first step in this process was the investigation of the systematic uncertainties in the modelling of high energy hadronic interactions and the resulting effect on the observable properties of the resulting air shower. This investigation was followed by the development of a new IACT event analysis chain, including improvements to both the event reconstruction and background rejection. The point source sensitivity of CTA candidate arrays could be increased up to 30% compared to the traditional chain. This chain was then applied to cosmic electrons and the sensitivity of CTA to electrons was determined. A simple semi-analytical model was then produced to demonstrate that signatures in the high energy electron spectrum from local sources are highly likely and should be observable with CTA at a high significance level
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available