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Primary Cosmic-Ray Positrons and Negatrons in 1968 at Energies Between 11 and 204 MeV


Rice, Carl James (1970) Primary Cosmic-Ray Positrons and Negatrons in 1968 at Energies Between 11 and 204 MeV. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/S34H-QY14.


The cosmic-ray positron and negatron spectra between 11 and 204 MeV have been measured in a series of 3 high-altitude balloon flights launched from Fort Churchill, Manitoba, on July 16, July 21, and July 29, 1968. The detector system consisted of a magnetic spectrometer utilizing a 1000-gauss permanent magnet, scintillation counters, and a lucite Čerenkov counter.

Launches were timed so that the ascent through the 100 g/cm2 level of residual atmosphere occurred after the evening geomagnetic cutoff transition. Data gathered during ascent are used to correct for the contribution of atmospheric secondary electrons to the flux measured at float altitude. All flights floated near 2.4 g/cm2.

A pronounced morning intensity increase was observed in each flight. We present daytime positron and negatron data which support the interpretation of the diurnal flux variation as a change in the local geomagnetic cutoff. A large diurnal variation was observed in the count rate of positrons and negatrons with magnetic rigidities less than 11 MV and is evidence that the nighttime cutoff was well below this value.

Using nighttime data we derive extraterrestrial positron and negatron spectra. The positron-to-total-electron ratio which we measure indicates that the interstellar secondary, or collision, source contributes ≾50 percent of the electron flux within this energy interval. By comparing our measured positron spectrum with the positron spectrum calculated for the collision source we derive the absolute solar modulation for positrons in 1968. Assuming negligible energy loss during modulation, we derive the total interstellar electron spectrum as well as the spectrum of directly accelerated, or primary, electrons. We examine the effect of adiabatic deceleration and find that many of the conclusions regarding the interstellar electron spectrum are not significantly altered for an assumed energy loss of up to 50 percent of the original energy.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Physics)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Vogt, Rochus E.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:22 December 1969
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASANGL 05-002-007
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08272015-160534262
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9119
Deposited On:28 Aug 2015 19:37
Last Modified:21 May 2024 23:27

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