CRD Collaborations

Cosmic Ray Division

With its unique, high-attitude stations, the Cosmic Ray Division (CRD) in Armenia continuously monitors almost all species of cosmic rays. Data from CRD, combined with data from stations all around the globe, contributes to a complete understanding of the particle acceleration caused by most violent explosions in the Universe, solar-terrestrial connections and operation of solar accelerators, space weather, and high-energy atmospheric physics. The CRD databases of hundred channels of particle and environmental information enlarge the possibilities of the international scientific community to observe online changing fluxes of all species of secondary cosmic rays and particles coming from thunderclouds along with atmospheric and weather conditions supporting to emergence of intense particle bursts. 

Cosmic ray research on Mt Aragats was started in 1943 by the physicists Artem and Abraham Amirkhanian. Since then, research at CRD has continued at two high-altitude research stations, 3200m and 2000m a.s.l on Mt Aragats and the headquarters in Yerevan. CRD is one of the largest institutions investigating many aspects of cosmic ray physics and recently started research on particle acceleration in the Earth’s atmosphere. CRD has developed networks of particle detectors for research of solar-terrestrial connections and space weather issues. The particle detectors monitor the consequences of violent solar explosions to warn satellite and aircraft operators about upcoming radiation storms. 

CRD YerPhI organizes and partners and many large international collaborations:

The mission of the Aragats Space Environmental Center (ASEC) collaboration organized in 2019 is to continuously measure as many as possible environmental parameters and species of cosmic rays at altitudes 2000 m and 3200 m. at Mount Aragats and in several newly established sites in Eastern Europe and Germany. ASEC hosts several detectors from partner countries and provides open access to vast databases of CRD.

Neutron Monitor Data Base (NMDB) is a worldwide network of standardized neutron monitors that record variations of the primary cosmic rays. NMDB provides access to Neutron Monitor measurements from stations around the world. NMDB aims to provide easy access to all Neutron Monitor measurements through an easy-to-use interface. NMDB provides access to real-time as well as historical data.

SEVAN (Space Environmental Viewing and Analysis) is a network of particle detectors located at middle and low latitudes around the world, which aims to improve fundamental research of space weather conditions and to provide short and long-term forecasts of dangerous space storms. The network detects changing fluxes of different species of secondary cosmic rays at different altitudes and latitudes, thus becoming a powerful integrated device to explore solar activity. The first four SEVAN modules have been operating at the Aragats Space Environmental Center in Armenia since 2007, in Yerevan, and on the slopes of Mt. Aragats at altitudes 1000, 1700, 2000, and 3200 m above sea level. The expansion of SEVAN networks continued in 2008 by deploying detectors in Croatia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. 

In 2023, CRD joined Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO). With already well-established institutions in the Alpine and Prealpine regions, such as the observatories Sonnblick (Austria), Jungfraujoch/Gornergrat (Switzerland), UFS Schneefernerhaus (Germany), Otlica (Slovenia), EURAC Research (Italy) and OSUG (France) outstanding research infrastructures have joined up to form the VAO. The VAO aims to give coherence to the research efforts of partner organizations and thus maximize scientific outputs. Laboratories at mountain tops allow a variety of research topics. 

A SEVAN Network detector has been operating since May 2023 at the UFS Schneefernerhaus on the Zugspitze.

CRD partners with MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-Ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescope) located on the grounds of the European Northern Observatory, atop Roque de los Muchachos on the Canary Island of La Palma. The two gamma-ray telescopes comprise a single measuring system - the MAGIC experiment. The mirror diameter of each telescope is 17 meters, making this the world's largest reflector of its kind. MAGIC detects short blue Cherenkov light flashes produced when neutral gamma rays enter the Earth's atmosphere, triggering avalanches of secondary particles.

CRD is a member of the International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI), an international cooperation to advance space weather science through a combination of instrument deployment, analysis, and interpretation of space weather data from the deployed instruments, in conjunction with space data and to communicate the results to the public and students. ISWI is a follow-up activity to the successful International Heliophysical Year (IHY 2007), focusing exclusively on space weather. ISWI aims to develop the physical insight necessary to understand the science and to reconstruct and forecast near-Earth space weather. This includes instrumentation, data analysis, modeling, education, training, and public outreach.

Individual Collaborators: Many individual collaborators are working with CRD scientists on Space weather, solar, and atmospheric physics from Nagoya University, M.I.T., Florida University, and many others.  

Major discoveries made by Aragats physicists in high-energy astrophysics, data analysis method, cosmic rays, and atmospheric physics:

  1. Measurement of the “knee” in the light and heavy cosmic ray nuclei energy spectrum, Aragats, 1998 - 2003. Determination of the mass and energy of the primary galactic nuclei by the measured extensive air shower.
  2. Determination of the maximum energy of solar proton accelerators, Aragats, 2005.
  3. Development of Neural Network and Bayesian statistical models for gamma-ray image purification and galactic nuclei classification, development of random search methods of NN training. Creation of the ANI package for the statistical analysis, implemented for the WIPPLE, MAGIC, KASCASE, and ANI experiments.
  4. Development of the MRSES (multiple random searches with early stop) method for big data analysis and deamination of the best set of relevant variables.
  5. Creating methods of multivariate nonparametric probability density estimation, Rennie dimensionality estimation, estimation of the variance of limited sample, etc.
  6. Creation of the ASEC collaboration for the measurement fluxes and energy spectra of most species of cosmic rays, electric and geomagnetic fields, atmospheric parameters, lightning flashes, and transient luminous events.
  7. Creation of an open-access database with hundreds of channels of cosmic ray fluxes, atmospheric discharges, and weather parameters for the multivariate correlation analysis.  
  8. Discovery of simultaneous fluxes of electrons, positrons, gamma rays, and neutrons, as well as prolonged radiation of 222Rn progeny, comprising a new phenomenon in the geoscience called thunderstorm ground enhancement (TGEs), Aragats, 2008-2020.
  9. Measurements of the TGE electron and gamma-ray energy spectra, proving the relativistic runaway electron avalanche (RREA) model, revealing the space-time structure of enhanced particle fluxes.
  10. Development of the SEVAN particle detector network installed on the heist mountains of Eastern Europe and Germany, 2007-2023.
  11. Estimating the maximum achievable atmospheric electric field on mountain tops Aragats, Armenia and Lomnicky Stit, Slovakia 2017-2020.
  12. Discovery of the Radon circulation effect during thunderstorms, Aragats 2020.
  13. Discovering of muon stopping effect and positron modulation effect in atmospheric electric fields.
  14. Registration of the atmospheric neutrons flux during thunderstorms proved their origination from the photonuclear reactions of the RREA gamma rays.
  15.  Observation of transient luminous events (TLEs) in the lower atmosphere.
  16. Developing the model of charge structure of the thundercloud charge structure.
  17. Revealing the charge structure of the lowered atmosphere and particle flux modulation by the atmospheric electric field (2018-2023).


Opportunities: INSTALL YOUR DETECTOR ON MOUNT ARAGATS (Open Competition)

The unexpected rise of solar activity points to reaching the solar maximum in 2024. After a long period of quiet Sun and a rather small 24th solar activity cycle, research of near-earth environments affected by huge magnetized clouds ejected from the Sun again became relevant. The nonlinear interaction between disturbed interplanetary magnetic and geomagnetic fields causes various effects in geospaces, ranging from damage to satellite electronics and some surface industries to the beautiful Aurora Borealis. The cosmic rays are messengers bringing direct information on these complex processes. Networks of particle detectors 24/7 monitoring the intensities of cosmic rays’ incidents on the Earth’s surface are an important addition to the spaceborne particle detectors operated by NOAA, NASA, ESA, and other space agencies. Recently, we reported observing the very rear Geomagnetic effect measured by particle detector networks operated on middle latitudes on mountain tops. For the first time, we measured the energy spectrum of the Geomagnetic effect, confirming its physical model. Thus, we also welcome proposals related to Solar physics and Space weather research. Please feel free to submit your proposals.

Proposals will be judged based on motivation and creativity, and the winning team will have the chance to discuss and tune their project ideas with CRD researchers before installing their facilities on Aragats. They will be invited to spend one week at Aragats (in June-August) for their experiment, with the unique opportunity to join the CRD team. The results are supposed to be summarised in a report and presented at the upcoming TEPA conferences. Students will be invited to attend planned summer school.

Projects in free format, including all proposed facility specifications, should be provided to CRD by 1 March 2024. All correspondence should go to Asaturyan Zara, The winners will be declared on March 15, 2024.

Links to the CRD site and CRD publications: