Jul 12 – 23, 2021
Europe/Berlin timezone

Study on the combined estimate of the cosmic-ray composition and particle cross-sections at ultrahigh energies

Jul 14, 2021, 6:00 PM
1h 30m


Talk CRI | Cosmic Ray Indirect Discussion


Olena Tkachenko (Institute for Astroparticle Physics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)


The mass composition is one of the key observables to understand the nature and origin of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs). The study of hadronic interactions at energies well beyond human-made accelerators is a fundamental probe of elementary particle physics. In previous analyses, the properties of the hadronic interactions were estimated under the assumption of a certain mass composition, typically proton-dominated, and the cross-sections were calculated by fitting the tail of the $X_\mathrm{max}$ distribution. In such an analysis, the impact of a possible He-contamination on the cross-section measurement is quoted as a systematic uncertainty. Vice versa, the cosmic-ray mass composition is typically determined using air shower simulations by assuming the validity of the considered hadronic interaction models.

In this contribution, we present a fully self-consistent approach of varying the proton-proton cross-sections, with the nucleus-nucleus cross-sections being predicted via the Glauber theory, and making a full $X_\mathrm{max}$ distribution fit to get an independent and simultaneous estimation of the interaction cross-sections and cosmic-ray primary composition. We will discuss the degeneracy between mass composition and hadronic interactions and compare the sensitivity of the proposed method to the one of previous approaches.


Ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays; Mass composition; Interaction cross-sections

Subcategory Theoretical Methods

Primary author

Olena Tkachenko (Institute for Astroparticle Physics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)


Ralph Engel (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)) Ralf Ulrich (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) Michael Unger

Presentation materials