Enhanced detection of Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes by AGILE
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
At the end of March 2015 the onboard configuration of the AGILE satellite was modified in order to disable the veto signal of the anticoincidence shield for the minicalorimeter instrument. The motivation for such a change was the understanding that the dead time induced by the anticoincidence prevented the detection of a large fraction of Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs), especially the short duration ones. We present here the characteristics of the new TGF sample after several months of stable operations with the new configuration. The configuration change was highly successful resulting in the detection of about 100 TGFs/month, an increase of a factor about 11 in TGFs detection rate with respect to previous configuration. As expected, the largest fraction of the new events has short duration, with a median duration of 80 microseconds. We also obtain a sample of events with simultaneous association, within 100 microseconds, with lightning sferics detected by the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), confirming previous results reported by the Fermi mission. Given the high detection rate and the AGILE very low (+/-2.5°) orbital inclination, the new configuration provides the largest TGF detection rate surface density (TGFs / km2 / year) to date, opening space for correlation studies with lightning and atmospheric parameters on short spatial and temporal scales along the equatorial region. Eventually, the events with associated simultaneous WWLLN sferics provide a highly reliable sample to probe the long-standing issue of the TGF maximal energy.