Roberto Battiston Discusses Space Research at INFN

Institutional Feature, December 2011

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INFN – Istituto Nationale de Fisica NucleareSW: Two of the papers in our decadal analysis report that the arrival directions for cosmic rays of the highest energy, up to 6 x 1019 eV coincide with the positions of nearby active galactic nuclei and blazers (Abraham J, et al., Science 318: 938-43, 2007; Abraham J, et al., Astropart. Phys. 29: 188-204, 2008). The work was done at the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina, with scientists from five INFN sections contributing to the collaboration. How important are these collaborations?

The work done at the Pierre Auger Observatory is another important example of INFN contributions to the field of astroparticle physics. In addition to the correlation of extremely high-energy cosmic rays with a cluster of active galaxies, many of these highly cited papers include missions or experiments that used several novel instruments built entirely or mainly by INFN. This is clearly one of the reasons for these high citations.

We should not forget, however, that theorists working for INFN are using data from these instruments, and that too drives up the citations. The single most highly cited paper in your list is an example where one INFN theorist has contributed to the interpretation of the data.

SW: I am interested in the correlation of highest-energy gamma rays with extragalactic sources. Is this an important development that your colleagues at INFN were responsible for?

Yes. During the last 10 years or so our instruments have opened up new windows on the universe at the highest energies on the GeV to TeV scale. The presence of such high-energy radiation was not predicted, and we simply do not know how much higher we can go. To get to higher energies than FERMI there is a powerful ground based technology to which INFN has also contributed. They are the Cerenkov gamma ray telescopes with their gigantic mirrors, like the MAGIC telescope in the Canary Islands.

MAGIC detects the light emitted by extremely high-energy photons hitting the Earth's atmosphere and creating an electromagnetic shower. The telescope performs very well in the region from 50 GeV to tens of TeV. It produces amazingly accurate maps of the center of the Milky Way crowded with objects emitting ultra-high-energy gamma rays. A modern version of the hell.

Coming next there is a large European project called CTA (Cerenkov Telescope Array) which is how gamma ray astronomy will be done for the next 10–15 years. CTA will undoubtedly produce many interesting results because its performance will surpass existing Cerenkov telescopes.End

Roberto Battiston
INFN
Dipartimento di Fisica
Perugia, Italy

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INFN – ISTITUTO NATIONALE DE FISICA NUCLEARE'S MOST CURRENT MOST-CITED PAPER IN ESSENTIAL SCIENCE INDICATORS:

Verde L, et al., "The 2DF Galaxy Redshift Survey: the bias of galaxies and the density of the universe," Mon. Notic. Roy. Astron. Soc. 335(2): 432-40, September 2002 with 290 cites. Source: Essential Science Indicators from Clarivate Analytics.

Additional Information:

  • INFN was named a Rising Star in Space Science in September 2011.

KEYWORDS: NEUTRINO PHYSICS, PARTICLE ASTROPHYSICS, UNDERGROUND EXPERIMENTS, SPACE EXPERIMENTS, NEUTRINOS, DARK MATTER, COSMIC RAYS, ASTROPARTICLE PHYSICS, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES, PARTICLES, FIELDS, COLLIDING PARTICLE BEAMS, GAMMA RAYS, COSMIC RADIATION, INSTRUMENTATION, SATELLITES, FERMI-LAT, EGRET, AGILE, BLAZAR MARKARIAN 421, GAMMA RAY BURSTS, LORENTZ INVARIANCE, EXTRAGALACTIC SOURCES, MAGIC TELESCOPE, CTA.

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