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Measurements of the low-energy neutron and gamma ray accompaniment of extensive air showers in the knee region of primary cosmic ray spectrum

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Purposeful investigation of radiation fluxes strongly delayed in relation to the main particle front of extensive air shower (EAS) was undertaken at the Tien Shan Mountain Cosmic Ray Station. It was found that the passage of the EAS can be accompanied by the delayed thermal neutrons and by the soft (30–50)  keV gamma rays, mostly concentrated within a region of about (5–10) m around the shower axis, where the integral radiation fluence can vary in the limits of \((10^{-4}{-}1)\) cm\(^{-2}\) for neutrons, and of \((0.1{-}1000)\) cm\(^{-2}\) for gamma rays. The dependence of signal multiplicity on the shower size \(N_\mathrm{e}\) has a power shape both for the neutron and gamma ray components, with a sharp increase of its power index around the value of \(N_\mathrm{e}\approx 10^6\), which corresponds to the position of the \(3 \times 10^{15}\) eV knee in the primary cosmic ray spectrum. The total duration of detectable radiation signal after the EAS passage can be of some tens of milliseconds in the case of neutron component, and up to a few whole seconds for gamma rays. The delayed accompaniment of low-energy radiation particles can be an effective probe to study the interaction of the hadronic component of EAS.

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This work was supported by scientific research programs #BR05236291 and #BR05236494 of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan Republic.

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Correspondence to Alexander Shepetov.

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Shepetov, A., Chubenko, A., Iskhakov, B. et al. Measurements of the low-energy neutron and gamma ray accompaniment of extensive air showers in the knee region of primary cosmic ray spectrum. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 135, 96 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1140/epjp/s13360-019-00092-1

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