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Study of water Cherenkov detector to improve the angular resolution of an air-shower array for ultra-high-energy gamma-ray observation


For research on cosmic gamma rays with energies in the range of several tens of teraelectronvolts or more, we investigated a method to improve the angular resolution of an air shower. In an air shower, the density of secondary gamma rays is several times higher than that of electrons and those measurement is important for determining the shower direction. It was found that the angular resolution in the shower front-fit method decreases in inverse proportion to the square root of the number of measured particles. Even if the total number of measured particles is the same, secondary gamma rays contribute more to the improvement of angular resolution than electrons. If secondary gamma rays could be measured at an altitude of 4,740 m with a sensitivity of 100 %, an improvement of approximately 40 % was determined for a 500 TeV shower. A water Cherenkov detector with high gamma-ray sensitivity was investigated through Monte Carlo simulation. Detection efficiencies of approximately 0.38 and 0.76 were obtained for vertically incident gamma rays and electrons, respectively, using 19 8-inch diameter PMTs inside a detector installed in a water tank of radius 4.5 m and water depth 1.6 m. The detection time error for secondary gamma rays is approximately 2.18 ns at an incident angle of 0 and the standard error in the detection time for shower front particles was found to be approximately 10 times lower than that obtained by using a plastic scintillation detector with an area of 1 m2.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, upon reasonable request.


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This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP15K05108.

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Correspondence to A. Shiomi.

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Nakada, H., Shiomi, A., Ohnishi, M. et al. Study of water Cherenkov detector to improve the angular resolution of an air-shower array for ultra-high-energy gamma-ray observation. Exp Astron 53, 991–1016 (2022).

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  • 100 TeV gamma ray
  • Air shower
  • Water Cherenkov detector