If extra spacetime dimensions and low-scale gravity exist, black holes will be produced in observable collisions of elementary particles. For the next several years, ultra-high energy cosmic rays provide the most promising window on this phenomenon. In particular, cosmic neutrinos can produce black holes deep in the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to quasi-horizontal giant air showers. We determine the sensitivity of cosmic ray detectors to black hole production and compare the results to other probes of extra dimensions. With n ≥ 4 extra dimensions, current bounds on deeply penetrating showers from AGASA already provide the most stringent bound on low-scale gravity, requiring a fundamental Planck scale MD > 1.3 − 1.8 TeV. The Auger Observatory will probe MD as large as 4 TeV and may observe on the order of a hundred black holes in 5 years. We also consider the implications of angular momentum and possible exponentially suppressed parton cross sections; including these effects, large black hole rates are still possible. Finally, we demonstrate that even if only a few black hole events are observed, a standard model interpretation may be excluded by comparison with Earth-skimming neutrino rates.


Originally posted at http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0112247v3. Preprint of an article published in Physical Review D, v.65 no.12, 2002.


ultrahigh energy cosmic rays, cosmic neutrinos, air showers, high energy physics phenomenology, TeV-scale gravity

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Black holes (Astronomy), Cosmic rays, Neutrinos, Phenomenological theory (Physics)



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