In a first, neutrinos were caught interacting at the Large Hadron Collider

ack

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The Large Hadron Collider’s claim to fame is its ability to unveil elusive subatomic particles. But there’s one class of particle that it had never directly detected, even though it produces them in abundance. Neutrinos, minute elementary particles, interact so little with matter that they sail through the particle accelerator’s massive detectors unnoticed (SN: 4/8/21).


Now, in a proof-of-concept experiment, the first evidence for neutrino interactions at the LHC has been spotted, researchers with the FASER collaboration report May 13 at arXiv.org. The technique could open up a window to neutrinos at energies for which the particles’ interactions are poorly understood.


It’s the first glimpse of neutrinos produced in a particle collider, a type of particle accelerator that smashes beams of particles together. Physicists have detected neutrinos from particle accelerators by smashing a beam of particles into a stationary target, but not in collisions. Looking for neutrinos in particle collisions allows scientists to probe higher energies, but it also makes the neutrinos more difficult to study.


To catch the neutrinos interacting, the researchers used a detector containing films similar to those used in photographic film. When a charged particle passes through a film, it leaves behind a track marking where it’s been. Neutrinos, which have no electric charge, don’t leave tracks in the detector. But when a neutrino interacts with matter inside the detector, it produces a spurt of charged particles that point to a neutrino as their source.

The researchers put their detector in a region that neutrinos pass through as they shoot forward from particle collisions in the LHC’s ATLAS detector. After estimating how many of the detections might be due to other particles that can mimic neutrinos, the researchers report that they caught about six neutrino interactions.


The LHC, located near Geneva, has been shut down for upgrades since 2018. The experiment, performed shortly before the shutdown, served as a test run for a future experiment, called FASERν, which will start up when the LHC restarts in 2022. FASERν is expected to detect around 10,000 neutrinos during the next period of LHC operations, from 2022 to 2024.

 

astrotoy

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One of our concert going friends was, until his retirement a couple of years ago, the head of the part of the ATLAS team based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) which also detected the Higgs Boson a few years ago. He is a super opera fan, and he and his wife (also a physicist and member of the ATLAS team and the first woman to chair the UC Berkeley physics department) attend 100 or more concerts and operas a year. He has a fantastic aural memory for the details of performances, so is fascinating to listen to discussing about various performers and performances over the years. These are all from attendance at live performances, not records. Both he and his wife spent good amounts of time every year in Geneva at the LHC.

Larry
 

ack

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Thanks! I love the friends you have!
 

BlueFox

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Neutrinos, which have no electric charge, don’t leave tracks in the detector. But when a neutrino interacts with matter inside the detector, it produces a spurt of charged particles that point to a neutrino as their source.
Are these charged particles produced by neutrino interactions known?
 

astrotoy

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Are these charged particles produced by neutrino interactions known?
Yes, there are actually different kinds of neutrinos. Here is a good layman level explanation of neutrinos. This article is about the first neutrino telescope that was built when I was in grad school. Its main component was dry cleaning fluid, a huge tank full of it at the bottom of an abandoned mine in South Dakota. The discovery of a discrepancy between prediction and observation eventually led to a major modification of the standard model of particle physics and a Nobel prize. Larry

 

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