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Physics colloquium-“sub-atomic particle window to the ultra-high-energy universe”

January 31, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Eric Mayotte

Colorado School of Mines, Physics Department

Abstract: Ultra-High-Energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are the most energetic objects yet observed, and can have individual particle energies of 1020 eV. The field of physics which studies them is called astroparticle physics and it sits at the intersection of high-energy particle physics and multi-messenger astrophysics. The primary goals for this field of study are identifying the astrophysical mechanisms capable of accelerating particles to these extreme energies and leveraging UHECR to probe physics at energies far beyond what human made experiments are capable of producing in the near future. Right now is an exciting time in astroparticle physics as practically all aspects of this field are undergoing a rapid evolution due to the availability of high-quality, high-statistics data-sets, advancing computational techniques, and revolutions in instrumentation design and scale [1]. A particularly exciting development is the advent of new analysis techniques which can map the particle universe at the highest energies using the composition of arriving cosmic rays. With this method, for the first time a composition dependent anisotropy in the UHECR sky has been identified and is approaching discovery status [2]. Furthermore, the anisotropy itself may be a significant driver of our understanding of the highest-energy extra-galactic systems, as its strength far surpasses those predicted with the most current astrophysical models [3]. This talk will give a brief overview of UHECR physics and where it is going over the next 20 years. Special attention is given to the technique of mapping the UHECR sky in terms of primary composition.

[1] A. Coleman, J. Eser, E. Mayotte, F. Sarazin, F. Schröder, D. Soldin, T. Venters et al., “Ultra-High-Energy Cosmic Rays: The Intersection of the Cosmic and Energy Frontiers,” Astroparticle Physics Special issue 147, 5 2022.

[2] E. Mayotte et al., “Indication of a mass-dependent anisotropy above 1018.7 eV in the hybrid data of the Pierre Auger Observatory,” PoS, vol. ICRC2021, p. 321, 2021.

[3] D. Allard, J. Aublin, B. Baret, and E. Parizot, “What can be learnt from UHECR anisotropies observations? Paper I : large-scale anisotropies and composition features,” 10 2021.

Biography: Dr. Eric Mayotte is a Mines physics alum, having received both his undergraduate and PhD in the Mines Physics department. He currently works in high-energy astrophysics looking at both cosmic rays and neutrinos. His PhD, under Professor Fred Sarazin, focused on searching for exotic matter by identifying low-velocity, high-energy, particle showers in the ultra-high-energy cosmic ray data collected by the Pierre Auger Observatory and was awarded best physics thesis at Mines in 2016. in 2016 he took a post-doc position under the spokesperson of the Pierre Auger Observatory, Professor Karl-Heinz Kampert at the University of Wuppertal in Wuppertal, Germany. During this post-doc, Eric developed a first of its kind method to map out the high-energy particle universe using the chemical composition of arriving cosmic ray primaries. This work has led to the first ever identification of a composition anisotropy in the flux of cosmic rays which is nearing discovery status, and was given a best contributed talk award at the largest international conference on astroparticle physics (ICRC). In August 2021, Eric returned to Mines as a post-doc to collaborate with Professor Fred Sarazin in order to build a micro-cosmic ray observatory in Utah and is working on the development of a space-based high-energy neutrino simulation suite in a collaboration with NASA scientists. When not working on physics, you’ll often find him skiing at A-Basin, playing cribbage at GCB, or reading a book at Higher Grounds.

All lectures held in CoorsTek 140 unless otherwise noted


January 31, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering
1523 Illinois St.
Golden, CO 80401 United States
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