The composition of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays is measured with the High Resolution Fly's Eye cosmic-ray observatory data using the Xmax technique. Data were collected in stereo between 1999 November and 2001 September. The data are reconstructed with well-determined geometry. Measurements of the atmospheric transmission are incorporated in the reconstruction. The detector resolution is found to be 30 g cm-2 in Xmax and 13% in energy. The Xmax elongation rate between 1018.0 and 1019.4 eV is measured to be 54.5 ± 6.5(stat) ± 4.5(sys) g cm-2 per decade. This is compared with predictions using the QGSJet01 and SIBYLL 2.1 hadronic interaction models for both protons and iron nuclei. CORSIKA-generated extensive air showers are incorporated directly into a detailed detector Monte Carlo program. The elongation rate and the Xmax distribution widths are consistent with a constant or slowly changing and predominantly light composition. A simple model containing only protons and iron nuclei is compared with QGSJet and SIBYLL. The best agreement between the model and the data is for 80% protons for QGSJet and 60% protons for SIBYLL.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Acceleration of particles
- Cosmic rays
- Large-scale structure of universe