Smartphones suggested as a tool to study ultra-high-energy rays
Cosmic rays with energies greater than 10¹⁸ eV are called Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays (UHECR). Their nature is not yet fully understood — the source can both be supernovae and black holes.
When ultra high energy rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere and interact with air molecules, cascades of secondary particles with lower energy are formed. The phenomenon is called «Giant Air Showers». Scientists detect these «showers» to get more information about the ultra-high-energy rays that generate them.
Scientists from the Higher School of Economics (HSE) have suggested to detect the giant air showers with a distributed network of mobile phones. The muons that are part of the giant air showers interact with the camera of the phone, leaving traces of weakly activated pixels, which are sometimes difficult to distinguish from a noise.
That means that anyone can take part in the study of the ultra-high-energy rays. One just needs to install the application on your smartphone and leave it on for the night with its camera looking down so that ordinary light does not fall on the lense. Being put in this position, the smartphone would scan images at a rate of 5−15 frames per second and send the necessary information to the server.
The network is in beta testing stage now. You can take part in it as well by registering on the website.