Measuring anisotropies in the cosmic neutrino background

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Abstract

Neutrino capture on tritium has emerged as a promising method for detecting the cosmic neutrino background (CνB). We show that relic neutrinos are captured most readily when their spin vectors are antialigned with the polarization axis of the tritium nuclei and when they approach along the direction of polarization. As a result, CνB observatories may measure anisotropies in the cosmic neutrino velocity and spin distributions by polarizing the tritium targets. A small dipole anisotropy in the CνB is expected due to the peculiar velocity of the lab frame with respect to the cosmic frame and due to late-time gravitational effects. The PTOLEMY experiment, a tritium observatory currently under construction, should observe a nearly isotropic background. This would serve as a strong test of the cosmological origin of a potential signal. The polarized-target measurements may also constrain nonstandard neutrino interactions that would induce larger anisotropies and help discriminate between Majorana versus Dirac neutrinos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number073006
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Volume90
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 22 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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