College - Author 1
College of Science and Mathematics
Department - Author 1
Degree Name - Author 1
BS in Physics
Jodi Christiansen, College of Science and Mathematics, Physics Department
The Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) is an array of four 12-meter telescopes which use the Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Technique to conduct high-energy gamma-ray astronomy. VERITAS detects magnitude and location information associated with Cherenkov light, and uses this information to indirectly observe gamma-rays through a software reconstruction process. VERITAS also records timing information corresponding to Cherenkov light detection, and this additional information could theoretically be incorporated into the reconstruction process to improve the accuracy of gamma-ray observations. The first step to including timing information is to understand when Cherenkov light detection would be expected from a known gamma-ray.
This research thesis investigates the use of timing information to improve the VERITAS reconstruction process by detailing the creation of two new models of Cherenkov light creation and propagation through the atmosphere. These models were used to make predictions of when and where Cherenkov light would be detected by VERITAS, and their detection location predictions were compared to predictions from accepted models and data from VERITAS to assess their validity. Both models showed agreement with the accepted models for subsets of the possible gamma-rays, suggesting they correctly model timing information in those specific cases. This thesis concludes by exploring causes and solutions for the discrepancies between the new and accepted models and discussing applications of the new models to improve the VERITAS reconstruction software.