Constraining Microwave Emission from Extensive Air Showers via the MIDAS Experiment
Richardson, Matthew Douglas
Ultra high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are accelerated by the most energetic processes in the universe. Upon entering Earth’s atmosphere they produce particle showers known as extensive air showers (EASs). Observatories like the Pierre Auger Observatory sample the particles and light produced by the EASs through large particle detector arrays or nitro- gen fluorescence detectors to ascertain the fundamental properties of UHECRs. The large sample of high quality data provided by the Pierre Auger Observatory can be attributed to the hybrid technique which utilizes the two aforementioned techniques simultaneously; however, the limitation of only being able to observe nitrogen fluorescence from EASs on clear moonless nights yields a limited 10% duty cycle for the hybrid technique. One pro- posal for providing high quality data at increased statistics is the observation of isotropic microwave emission from EAS, as such emission would be observed with a 100% duty cycle. Measurements of microwave emission from laboratory air plasmas conducted by Gorham et al. (2008) produced promising results indicating that the microwave emission should be observable using inexpensive detectors. The Microwave Detection of Air Showers (MIDAS) experiment was built at the University of Chicago to characterize the isotropic microwave emission from EASs and has collected 359 days of observational data at the location of the Pierre Auger experiment. We have performed a time coincidence analysis between this data and data from Pierre Auger and we report a null result. This result places stringent limits on microwave emission from EASs and demonstrates that the laboratory measure- ments of Gorham et al. (2008) are not applicable to EASs, thus diminishing the feasibility of using isotropic microwave emission to detect EASs.