We consider the possibility that a large fraction of the ultrahigh energy cosmic rays are decay products of Z bosons which were produced in the scattering of ultrahigh energy cosmic neutrinos on cosmological relic neutrinos. We compare the observed ultra-high energy cosmic ray spectrum with the one predicted in the above Z-burst scenario and determine the required mass of the heaviest relic neutrino as well as the necessary ultrahigh energy cosmic neutrino flux via a maximum likelihood analysis. We show that the value of the neutrino mass obtained in this way is fairly robust against variations in presently unknown quantities, like the amount of neutrino clustering, the universal radio background, and the extragalactic magnetic field, within their anticipated uncertainties. Much stronger systematics arises from different possible assumptions about the diffuse background of ordinary cosmic rays from unresolved astrophysical sources. In the most plausible case that these ordinary cosmic rays are protons of extragalactic origin, one is lead to a required neutrino mass in the range 0.08eV ≤ mv ≤ 1.3eV at the 68% confidence level. This range narrows down considerably if a particular universal radio background is assumed, e.g. to 0.08.eV ≤ mv ≤ 0.40eV for a large one. The required flux of ultrahigh energy cosmic neutrinos near the resonant energy should be detected in the near future by AMANDA, RICE, and the Pierre Auger Observatory, otherwise the Z-burst scenario will be ruled out.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics