Feb. 15, 2021 – The observatory has made detailed information about an initial selection of its recorded cosmic-ray events available for outside scientists to use.
By Kathryn Jepsen
In Argentina, far to the west of Buenos Aires, sits the world’s largest cosmic-ray detector: Pierre Auger Observatory. It’s made up of an array of 1,600 detector stations, each spaced about a mile apart. From the mountains that separate the country from neighboring Chile, you can see a portion of its grid of detector tanks, which spread across an expanse of the pampas the size of Yosemite National Park.
The collaboration—now made up of about 400 scientists—turned on the first of its detectors in 2004. It has been using the full array to collect data for particle physics and astrophysics research since 2008.
Today, they’re making an initial selection of that data available to scientists, along with all the information they’ll need to use it.
Pierre Auger scientists have released data before, both in their open-access scientific publications and for the purposes of education and outreach on their website. But this is the first time they’ve released such detailed information about each cosmic-ray event. The release includes 10% of their dataset through 2018—a collection of every 10th recorded event.
“It’s oriented to the scientists,” says physicist Xavier Bertou, who has conducted research at Pierre Auger since he wrote his PhD thesis at the observatory 25 years ago. “The idea is really to have people who have never used Auger data to be able to use them.”