Techniques for measuring aerosol attenuation using the Central Laser Facility at the Pierre Auger Observatory

The Pierre Auger Collaboration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Pierre Auger Observatory in Malargüe, Argentina, is designed to study the properties of ultra-high energy cosmic rays with energies above 1018 eV. It is a hybrid facility that employs a Fluorescence Detector to perform nearly calorimetric measurements of Extensive Air Shower energies. To obtain reliable calorimetric information from the FD, the atmospheric conditions at the observatory need to be continuously monitored during data acquisition. In particular, light attenuation due to aerosols is an important atmospheric correction. The aerosol concentration is highly variable, so that the aerosol attenuation needs to be evaluated hourly. We use light from the Central Laser Facility, located near the center of the observatory site, having an optical signature comparable to that of the highest energy showers detected by the FD. This paper presents two procedures developed to retrieve the aerosol attenuation of fluorescence light from CLF laser shots. Cross checks between the two methods demonstrate that results from both analyses are compatible, and that the uncertainties are well understood. The measurements of the aerosol attenuation provided by the two procedures are currently used at the Pierre Auger Observatory to reconstruct air shower data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberP04009
JournalJournal of Instrumentation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Data analysis
  • Detector alignment and calibration methods (lasers, sources, particle-beams)
  • Large detector systems for particle and astroparticle physics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Mathematical Physics


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