Triboelectric backgrounds to radio-based polar ultra-high energy neutrino (UHEN) experiments

Stijn Buitink, Hershal Pandya, Dieder Van den Broeck, Simon De Kockere, Krijn De Vries, Uzair Abdul Latif, Olaf Scholten, Nicolaas Van Eijndhoven

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Abstract

In the hopes of observing the highest-energy neutrinos (E> 1 EeV) populating the Universe, both past (RICE,
AURA, ANITA) and current (RNO-G, ARIANNA, ARA and TAROGE-M) polar-sited experiments exploit the
impulsive radio emission produced by neutrino interactions. In such experiments, rare single event candidates
must be unambiguously identified above backgrounds. Background rejection strategies to date primarily target
thermal noise fluctuations and also impulsive radio-frequency signals of anthropogenic origin. In this paper,
we consider the possibility that ‘fake’ neutrino signals may also be generated naturally via the ‘triboelectric
effect.’ This broadly describes any process in which force applied at a boundary layer results in displacement
of surface charge, leading to the production of an electrostatic potential difference 𝛥V. Wind blowing over
granular surfaces such as snow can induce such a potential difference, with subsequent coronal discharge.
Discharges over timescales as short as nanoseconds can then lead to radio-frequency emissions at characteristic
MHz–GHz frequencies.
Using data from various past (RICE, AURA, SATRA, ANITA) and current (RNO-G, ARIANNA and ARA)
neutrino experiments, we find evidence for such backgrounds, which are generally characterized by: (a)
a threshold wind velocity which likely depends on the experimental trigger criteria and layout; for the
experiments considered herein, this value is typically (10 m/s), (b) frequency spectra generally shifted to the
low-end of the frequency regime to which current radio experiments are typically sensitive (100–200 MHz),
(c) for the strongest background signals, an apparent preference for discharges from above-surface structures,
although the presence of more isotropic, lower amplitude triboelectric discharges cannot be excluded.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102790
Number of pages18
JournalAstroparticle Physics
Volume145
Issue number2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The ARA collaboration acknowledges the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Polar Programs and Physics Division, United States for funding support, as well as the Taiwan National Science Councils Vanguard Program NSC 92-2628-M-002-09 and the Belgian F.R.S.-FNRS Grant 4.4508.01 . K. Hughes thanks the NSF for support through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program Award, United States DGE-1746045 . B. A. Clark thanks the NSF for support through the Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship under Award 1903885 . A. Connolly thanks the NSF for Award 1806923 . S. A. Wissel thanks the NSF for support through CAREER Award 2033500. A. Vieregg thanks the Sloan Foundation and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, the Research Computing Center and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago for the resources they provided. R. Nichol thanks the Leverhulme Trust, United Kingdom for their support. D. Z. Besson, I. Kravchenko, D. Seckel and D. Williams thank the National Science Foundation for their generous support of the IceCube EPSCoR Initiative (Award ID 2019597 ).

Funding Information:
The ARIANNA collaboration acknowledges the U.S. National Science Foundation-Office of Polar Programs , the U.S. National Science Foundation-Physics Division (grant NSF-1607719 ) and NSF grant NRT 1633631 . C. Glaser acknowledges funding from the German research foundation (DFG, grants GL 914/1-1 ). Support is acknowledged from the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology , and the Swedish Government strategic program Stand Up for Energy .

Funding Information:
The RNO-G collaboration acknowledges the Belgian Funds for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS and FWO) and the FWO programme for International Research Infrastructure (IRI) , the National Science Foundation through the NSF Awards IDs 2118315, 2112352, 211232, 2111410 and the IceCube EPSCoR Initiative (Award ID 2019597), the German research foundation (DFG, Grant NE 2031/2-1 ), the Helmholtz Association, Germany (Initiative and Networking Fund, W2/W3 Program), the University of Chicago Research Computing Center, United States , and the European Research Council under the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 805486 ).

Funding Information:
For this article information and data from all previous radio neutrino experiments were compiled. We thank all involved experimental groups for agreeing to collaborate on this broader topic highly relevant for the experimental future. We in particular acknowledge dedicated data analysis for this paper by M. Mikhailova (AURA, RICE), D. Besson (SATRA, RICE, ARA), L. Zhao (ARIANNA), S. Bouma and M. Cataldo (RNO-G) and S. H. Wang (TAROGE-M). We gratefully acknowledge the support of all funding agencies that supported these experiments, in particular the National Science Foundation, United States, over the term during which these data were taken. Also, none of the experiments would have been possible without the invaluable field support of various agencies and staff at South Pole, McMurdo, and Summit Station. The ARIANNA collaboration acknowledges the U.S. National Science Foundation-Office of Polar Programs, the U.S. National Science Foundation-Physics Division (grant NSF-1607719) and NSF grant NRT 1633631. C. Glaser acknowledges funding from the German research foundation (DFG, grants GL 914/1-1). Support is acknowledged from the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Swedish Government strategic program Stand Up for Energy. The ARA collaboration acknowledges the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Polar Programs and Physics Division, United States for funding support, as well as the Taiwan National Science Councils Vanguard Program NSC 92-2628-M-002-09 and the Belgian F.R.S.-FNRS Grant 4.4508.01. K. Hughes thanks the NSF for support through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program Award, United States DGE-1746045. B. A. Clark thanks the NSF for support through the Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship under Award 1903885. A. Connolly thanks the NSF for Award 1806923. S. A. Wissel thanks the NSF for support through CAREER Award 2033500. A. Vieregg thanks the Sloan Foundation and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, the Research Computing Center and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago for the resources they provided. R. Nichol thanks the Leverhulme Trust, United Kingdom for their support. D. Z. Besson, I. Kravchenko, D. Seckel and D. Williams thank the National Science Foundation for their generous support of the IceCube EPSCoR Initiative (Award ID 2019597). The RNO-G collaboration acknowledges the Belgian Funds for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS and FWO) and the FWO programme for International Research Infrastructure (IRI), the National Science Foundation through the NSF Awards IDs 2118315, 2112352, 211232, 2111410 and the IceCube EPSCoR Initiative (Award ID 2019597), the German research foundation (DFG, Grant NE 2031/2-1), the Helmholtz Association, Germany (Initiative and Networking Fund, W2/W3 Program), the University of Chicago Research Computing Center, United States, and the European Research Council under the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 805486).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

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