A new calculation of Earth-skimming very- and ultra-high energy tau neutrinos
2019 August 20
Cosmic neutrinos above a PeV are produced either within astrophysical sources or when ultra-high energy cosmic rays interact in transit through the cosmic background radiation. Detection of these neutrinos will be essential for understanding cosmic ray acceleration, composition and source evolution. By using the Earth as a tau neutrino converter for upward-going extensive air showers from tau decays, balloon-borne and space-based instruments can take advantage of a large volume and mass of the terrestrial neutrino target. The theoretical inputs and uncertainties in determining the tau lepton exit probabilities and their translation to detection acceptance will be discussed in the context of a new calculation we have performed. We quantify the experimental detection capability based on our calculation, including using the Probe of Extreme Multi-Messenger Astrophysics (POEMMA) concept study response parameters for optical air Cherenkov detection. These case studies are used to illustrate the features and uncertainties in upward tau air shower detection.