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Towards the radio-detection of cosmic particles with the SKA

Jodrell Bank 5-7 May 2015

The full programme, including slides from individual talks, is available here.

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The huge number of antenna elements and beam forming capability proposed for the SKA offers a unique opportunity for the investigation of cosmic rays via radio wave production from cascade showers produced either in the atmosphere or in the Regolith of the moon, as outlined on two recent papers Huege et al. 2014 and Bray et al. 2014

The aim of this workshop is to further facilitate the detection of energetic cosmic particles in the atmosphere and on the Moon with the SKA, and focus research efforts to maximise the science outcomes of such experiments. This includes not only work on the SKA itself, but milestones to be achieved during the lead-up to full SKA operation. The meeting will be held at Jodrell Bank Observatory, the radio astronomy facility of The University of Manchester, on 5th-7th May 2015, in proximity to the SKA Project Design Office, and historically where some of the earliest experiments on the detection of cosmic rays using radio techniques were undertaken

The lunar Askaryan technique has the potential to explore both the neutrino and cosmic-ray sky above 10^19 eV. Short ns-wide radio pulses are emitted by electromagnetic cascades produced by either cosmic rays or neutrinos interacting within the regolith of the moon. SKA-LOW and SKA-MID will be able to detect this emission at energies where the Pierre Auger Observatory and Telescope Array have seen the first hints of anisotropy and will dramatically increase the sensitive detection area to millions of km^2. Potentially SKA could also advance particle astronomy to the point where sources can be located directly.

Detection of air showers induced by cosmic rays of lower energies (~10^17 eV) in the atmosphere above SKA-LOW can be used to study the transition from Galactic to extragalactic sources with unprecedented precision regarding the mass composition of the primary particles. Such measurements, complementary to those at the Pierre Auger Observatory and others, are the key to disentangling the complex interplay of different particle species in producing the structures seen in the all-particle spectrum. Furthermore, near-field interferometry of the air shower radio emission will allow the study of cross sections and other particle physics aspects at energies beyond the reach of the LHC via detailed "tomography" of the electromagnetic cascades in air showers.

Scientific Organising Committee: Jaime Alvarez-Muniz, Justin Bray, Stijn Buitink, Tim Huege, Clancy James (chair), Maaijke Mevius, Olaf Scholten, Ralph Spencer and Wallace Turner

Local Organising Committee: Ralph Spencer, Justin Bray and Pat Stanway

We are grateful to the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, RadioNet and the SKA Organisation for sponsoring this meeting.

RadioNet3 has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 283393.


The meeting is centred on talks by invited speakers but we encourage anyone interested in the project to join in with discussion. Please use this form for registration.

The registration fee is £50 (cash please, payable at the meeting) and this includes lunches and coffee on all days, a conference dinner and transport to and from the recommended hotel (see below).

Outline Programme

(The full programme is available here.)

Tuesday 5th May:
09:00-09:30: Registration
Session 1: Cosmic rays and the SKA
Session 2: SKA-EAS science and engineering
Session 3: SKA-lunar science and engineering
Conference dinner
Wednesday 6th May:
Session 4: Workshop on SKA technical challenges
Session 5: Strategic planning discussion
Thursday 7th May:
Session 6: Modelling and analysis workshop
Session 7: Future plans and work allocation
Session 8: Wrap-up
18:00: Workshop ends

Talks by our invited speakers:

will be given on Tuesday 5th May.


If you need an invitation letter to obtain a Visa to enter the UK please get in touch with Pat Stanway (pat@jb.man.ac.uk)

Accommodation and Directions

The meeting is taking place at Jodrell Bank Observatory, located 20 miles south of Manchester.

We recommend that you stay at the Premier Inn, Wilmslow which is attached to the Boddington Arms pub. We will be arranging for bus transport to and from the hotel each day to Jodrell Bank and the conference dinner venue. You are more than welcome to stay at other hotels or B&B's in the area, but you will either need to find your own transport to Jodrell or to the Boddington Arms to meet the bus.

By Airplane

The closest airport is Manchester International Airport. Note that the meeting ends at 18:00 on Thursday; if you're planning to fly out that night, make sure you have time to catch your flight.

By Train

Transport to Wilmslow by train can best be arranged by using the National Rail Enquiries website.

By Taxi

If you wish to take a taxi from the airport, then we recommend using Arrow Cars rather than a black cab as they are considerably cheaper. You can find the Arrow Car desk inside the terminals at the airport or you can book them online.