In hadron induced air showers of highest energies (E > 10 18 eV), the lateral distribution functions of electrons and muons are a superposition of many separate electromagnetic sub-showers, initiated by meson decay at different altitudes and energies. The lateral distribution function is the primary tool for reconstructing the energy of the primary in a UHE cosmic ray shower, so understanding it in detail is a prerequisite for having confidence in the energy determination. We analyze in this paper the dominant contributions to the ground level lateral distribution functions, as a function of the altitude and energy at which the sub-showers are initiated. Far from the core, the dominant contribution to the density of electrons comes from sub-showers initiated at low altitudes and low energies (E < 100 GeV). The dominant sub-showers are initiated at large radial distance from the core and at a large angle with respect to the main shower axis. This demonstrates the need for careful treatment of low energy hadron physics modeling even for ultrahigh energy primaries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics