Pierre Auger Observatory

Pierre Auger Observatory. Installed at the foot of the Andes in Argentina , they bring together nearly 500 scientists and technicians, who come from 65 institutions in more than a dozen countries in search of cosmic rays.


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  • 1 History of cosmic rays
    • 1 News
  • 2 Installation and collaboration of the project
    • 1 International collaboration
  • 3 Observatory of the southern hemisphere
    • 1 Project objective
    • 2 Parents of the project
    • 3 Inauguration
    • 4 Argentine contribution
    • 5 Cooperation
  • 4 Sources

History of cosmic rays

In 1912 , in a balloon at a height of 5,000 meters, Victor Hess ( 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics ), father of cosmic ray research, discovered “penetrating radiation from space.

Thirty years later, in 1932 , a debate takes place on the nature of cosmic rays. According to the theory of the American physicist Robert Millikan , cosmic rays were gamma rays from space, however, the evidence was revealing that they were mostly energetic particles.

In 1938 , the French physicist Pierre Auger , who had located particle detectors high in the Alps, noted that two detectors placed many meters apart indicated the arrival of particles at exactly the same time. Thus, Auger had discovered “extended aerial showers, secondary subatomic particle showers caused by the collision of high-energy primary particles with air molecules.


Today, thanks to the technology of the Observatory named after the French physicist, scientists will be able to know more about the origin and nature of these particles, which carry with them valuable information about the evolution of the Universe.

Installation and collaboration of the project

Installed at the foot of the Andes in Argentina, the Pierre Auger Observatory is one of the most ambitious ventures of the current era. They are the highest energies known in nature that come from outer space and that irrigate the Earth’s surface with particles that account for the evolution of the Universe . The information collected in this project could give rise to a new branch of science, charged particle astronomy .

International collaboration

Two windows to the universe, one located at the foot of the Andes in Malargüe, in the south of the province of Mendoza, on Argentine soil, and the other to be installed in Lamar, Colorado, in the United States , bring together nearly 500 scientists and technicians from 65 institutions in 14 countries, including Argentina, Brazil , Germany , Spain , the United States of America, France, Mexico , and the United Kingdom .

The objective of this extensive international collaboration aims to decipher the origin and existence of cosmic rays – which carry information about the Universe – by using the imposing Pierre Auger Observatory whose detectors and telescopes occupy an area of ​​three thousand square kilometers in Malargüe. Both sites were chosen for having an adequate altitude and a clear sky to detect cosmic rays. In addition, with both observatories, it is possible to cover the entire celestial vault.

Southern hemisphere observatory

The Southern Hemisphere Observatory is made up of 1,680 surface detection tanks and 27 fluorescence telescopes, among other equipment. The tanks contain purified water whose molecules discharge light signals that are detected when they come in contact with cosmic rays. Furthermore, telescopes capture ultraviolet light produced by cosmic ray cascades as they pass through the air in the atmosphere .

“Due to the very low flux of extreme energy cosmic rays, one per year per square kilometer and per century, the Observatory extends over three thousand square kilometers,” Dr. Alberto Etchegoyen, Argentine representative, told the CyTA Agency of the Auger Project and director of the Institute of Technologies in Detection and Astroparticles of Argentina.

Objective of the project

“The objective of the Auger Project is to study the highest known energies in nature, which are cosmic rays from outer space that reach the earth’s surface with a very low flow. The cosmic rays with the highest energy are mainly protons or atomic nuclei, which when entering the Earth’s atmosphere generate a rain or shower of secondary particles, “said Etchegoyen.

Parents of the project

The 1980 Nobel Prize in Physics, James Watson Cronin of the University of Chicago, is the father and mentor of the Auger Project, along with Alan Watson of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Cronin came to Argentina for the first time in 1995 when he contacted scientists and technicians from the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) of Argentina with whom he built the Auger Observatory.


It opened in November of 2008 , since 2004 have been conducted studies with detection equipment and observation facilities.

Argentine contribution

According to the official website of the Pierre Auger Observatory, the 14 participating countries contributed a total of $ 50 million for the construction of the South Observatory. The Argentine contribution is channeled through the CNEA –which leads the Project in Argentina–, and the government of the province of Mendoza. `


Participating groups. From the beginning when UNESCO gave its support to the idea, the exchange of scientists between countries and groups has allowed the knowledge to be extended and shared generously. ”

Doctor in physics Adrián Rovero, from the Argentine Institute of Astronomy and Space Physics, who participates in Auger’s activities in studies of the composition of cosmic rays and, mainly, in the calibration of fluorescence telescopes at the Auger observatory , He estimated that “beyond the scientific-technological benefits of a venture such as the Auger Observatory, it is worth noting the economic and social importance it represents for the host country. The entire community movement, the training of human resources, the specialization of labor and all the ventures that arise from a scientific pole, are some of the benefits to be highlighted ”.


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