In models with large extra dimensions, particle collisions with a center-of-mass energy larger than the fundamental gravitational scale can generate nonperturbative gravitational objects. Since cosmic rays have been observed with energies above 108 TeV, gravitational effects in the TeV energy range can, in principle, be observed by ultrahigh energy cosmic ray detectors. We consider the interaction of ultrahigh energy neutrinos in the atmosphere and compare extensive air showers from TeV black hole formation and fragmentation with standard model processes. Departures from the standard model predictions arise in the interaction cross sections and in the multiplicity of secondary particles. Large theoretical uncertainties in the black hole cross section weaken attempts to constrain TeV gravity based solely on differences between predicted and observed event rates. The large multiplicity of secondaries in black hole fragmentation enhances the detectability of TeV gravity effects. We simulate TeV black hole air showers using PYTHIA and AIRES, and find that black-hole-induced air showers are quite distinct from standard model air showers. However, the limited amount of information registered by realistic detectors together with large air shower fluctuations limit in practice the ability to distinguish TeV gravity events from standard model events in a shower by shower case. We discuss possible strategies to optimize the detectability of black hole events and propose a few unique signatures that may allow future high statistics detectors to separate black hole from standard model events.




National Science Foundation (U.S.)
United States. Department of Energy


This work was supported in part by the NSF through grant AST-0071235 and DOE grant DE-FG0291- ER40606 at the University of Chicago and at the Center for Cosmological Physics by grant NSF PHY-0114422.

Keywords and Phrases

Article; Atomic particle; Black hole; Cosmic radiation; Cosmos; Energy; Gravity; Molecular interaction; Molecular model; Quantum theory

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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© 2003 American Physical Society (APS), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2003

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Physics Commons