Anisotropy expectations for ultra-high-energy cosmic rays with future high-statistics experiments
1 Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire (LAL), Université
Paris 11, CNRS-IN2P3, France
2 Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute, The University of Chicago, Chicago, USA
3 Laboratoire AstroParticule et Cosmologie (APC), Université Paris 7, CNRS-IN2P3, Paris, France
4 Astrophysical Big Bang Laboratory, RIKEN, 351-0198 Saitama, Japan
Received: 19 January 2014
Accepted: 11 March 2014
Context. Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) have attracted a lot of attention in astroparticle physics and high-energy astrophysics, due to their challengingly high energies, and to their ability to constrain the physical processes and astrophysical parameters in the most energetic sources of the universe. Despite their very large acceptance, current detectors have failed to detect significant anisotropies in their arrival directions, which had been expected to lead to the long-sought identification of their sources. Some indications about the composition of the UHECRs, which may become heavier at the highest energies, have even called into question the possibility that such a goal could be achieved in the foreseeable future.
Aims. We investigate the potential value of a new-generation detector, with an exposure increased by one order of magnitude, to overcome the current situation and make notable progress in detecting anisotropies and thus in the study of UHECRs. We take as an example the expected performances of the JEM-EUSO detector, assuming a uniform full-sky coverage with a total exposure of 300 000 km2 sr yr.
Methods. We simulated realistic UHECR sky maps for a wide range of possible astrophysical scenarios allowed by the current constraints, taking the energy losses and photo-dissociation of the UHE protons and nuclei into account, as well as their deflections by intervening magnetic fields. These sky maps, built for both the expected statistics of JEM-EUSO and the current Pierre Auger Observatory statistics, as a reference, were analysed from the point of view of their intrinsic anisotropies, using the two-point correlation function. A statistical study of the resulting anisotropies was performed for each astrophysical scenario, varying the UHECR source composition and spectrum and the source density and exploring a set of five hundred independent realizations for each choice of a parameter set.
Results. We find that significant anisotropies are expected to be detected by a next-generation UHECR detector, for essentially all the astrophysical scenarios studied, and give precise, quantitative meaning to this statement.
Conclusions. Our results show that a gain of one order of magnitude in the total exposure of UHECR detectors would make a significant difference compared to the existing experiments, and would allow considerable progress in the study of these mysterious particles and their sources.
Key words: astroparticle physics / cosmic rays / ISM: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2014