Electroweak instantons as a solution to the ultrahigh energy cosmic ray puzzle

Z. Fodor, S. D. Katz, A. Ringwald, H. Tu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


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 1017 eV to 1021 eV. As usual, the ultrahigh energy protons with energies above EGZK ≈ 4 × 1019 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
JournalPhysics Letters, Section B: Nuclear, Elementary Particle and High-Energy Physics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 29 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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