The lateral distribution function of cosmic-ray induced air showers studied with the HAWC observatory
2019 July 22
The particle lateral distribution function (LDF) of air showers at a given altitude is sensitive to the mass composition and primary energy of cosmic rays. Studies of the LDF are difficult to perform due to experimental effects such as sampling bias, as well as shower-to-shower fluctuations in particle density. The High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) observatory, a dense air shower array located in central Mexico at 4100 m a.s.l., is well-suited to perform detailed event-by-event studies of the LDF of multi-TeV cosmic-ray showers. The detector is instrumented with 1,200 photomultipliers (PMTs) in close-packed water Cherenkov tanks containing a total of 60 ML of water. We present a study of the LDF of cosmic-ray air showers recorded by HAWC in 2016 with energies between 3 TeV and 300 TeV and zenith angle < 16.7º. The data are used to determine the optimal parameterization of the LDF at the HAWC site. From here the lateral shower age is obtained and its sensitivity to the cosmic ray mass composition is analyzed.