Electroweak instantons as a solution to the ultrahigh energy cosmic ray puzzle
WoS ID: 000183005700001
Scopus ID: 0037612195
We propose a scenario in which a simple power-like primary spectrum for protons with sources at cosmological distances leads to a quantitative description of all the details of the observed cosmic ray spectrum for energies from 10(17) eV to 10(21) eV. As usual, the ultrahigh energy protons with energies above E-GZK approximate to 4 x 10(19) eV loose a large fraction of their energies by the photoproduction of pions on the cosmic microwave background, which finally decay mainly into neutrinos. In our scenario, these so-called cosmogenic neutrinos interact with nucleons in the atmosphere through Standard Model electroweak instanton-induced processes and produce air showers which are hardly distinguishable from ordinary hadron-initiated air showers. In this way, they give rise to a second contribution to the observed cosmic ray spectrum-in addition to the one from above mentioned protons-which reaches beyond EGZK. Since the whole observed spectrum is uniquely determined by a single primary injection spectrum, no fine tuning is needed to fix the ratio of the spectra below and above EGZK. The statistical analysis shows an excellent goodness of this scenario. Possible tests of it range from observations at cosmic ray facilities and neutrino telescopes to searches for QCD instanton-induced processes at HERA. (C) 2003 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.