Gamma/hadron separation with the HAWC observatory

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Department of Physics


The High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) gamma-ray observatory observes atmospheric showers produced by incident gamma rays and cosmic rays with energy from 300 GeV to more than 100 TeV. A crucial phase in analyzing gamma-ray sources using ground-based gamma-ray detectors like HAWC is to identify the showers produced by gamma rays or hadrons. The HAWC observatory records roughly 25,000 events per second, with hadrons representing the vast majority (>99.9%) of these events. The standard gamma/hadron separation technique in HAWC uses a simple rectangular cut involving only two parameters. This work describes the implementation of more sophisticated gamma/hadron separation techniques, via machine learning methods (boosted decision trees and neural networks), and summarizes the resulting improvements in gamma/hadron separation obtained in HAWC.

Publication Title

Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment