Prospects for Cross-correlations of UHECR Events with Astrophysical Sources with Upcoming Space-based Experiments
July 23, 2021
Ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) are the messengers of the most extreme physics in the cosmos; however, efforts to identify their origins have thus far been thwarted by the fact that they don’t point back to their sources. Using statistical studies cross-correlating UHECR arrival directions with astrophysical catalogs, the ground-based Pierre Auger Observatory has reported hints of a correlation with nearby starburst galaxies, as well as lower-significance correlations with other classes of astrophysical sources. Space-based UHECR experiments, such as POEMMA and ZAP, will monitor large interaction volumes on the Earth or the Moon. Within a few years of mission operation time, both missions will achieve unprecedented exposures at energies above $40$ EeV across the entire sky. We present studies of the cross-correlation between UHECR event arrival directions and astrophysical catalogs as motivated by expectations for the detector performance for POEMMA and ZAP. We find that both POEMMA and ZAP will achieve $5\sigma$ discovery reach for many plausible astrophysical scenarios.
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