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Detection of a cosmic ray with measured energy well beyond the expected spectral cutoff due to cosmic microwave radiation
Bird, D. J.; Corbato, S. C.; Dai, H. Y.; Elbert, J. W.; Green, K. D.; Huang, M. A.; Kieda, D. B.; Ko, S.; Larsen, C. G.; Loh, E. C.; Luo, M. Z.; Salamon, M. H.; Smith, J. D.; Sokolsky, P.; Sommers, P.; Tang, J. K. K.; Thomas, S. B.
AA(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, US), AB(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, US), AC(University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, US), AD(University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, US), AE(University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US), AF(University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US), AG(University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, US), AH(University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, US), AI(University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, US), AJ(University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 441, no. 1, p. 144-150 (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Background Radiation, Cosmic Rays, Elementary Particles, Energy Spectra, High Energy Interactions, Microwaves, Pion Beams, Radiation Detectors, Radiation Measuring Instruments, Radiation Sources, Statistical Analysis
Bibliographic Code:


We report the detection of a 51 Joule (3.2 +/- 0.9 x 1020 eV) cosmic ray by the Fly's Eye air shower detector in Utah. This is substantially greater than the energy of any previously reported cosmic ray. A Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuz'min cutoff of the energy spectrum (due to pion photoproduction energy losses) should occur below this energy unless the highest energy cosmic rays have traveled less than approximately 30 Mpc. The error box for the arrival direction in galactic coordinates is centered on b = 9.6 deg, l = 163.4 deg. The particle cascade reached a maximum size near a depth of 815 g/sq cm in the atmosphere, a depth which does not uniquely identify the type of primary particle.

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