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

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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.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's18
TijdschriftAstroparticle Physics
Nummer van het tijdschrift2023
StatusPublished - mrt 2023

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© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


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