A "very exciting" anomaly detected in larger experiments can be big news for physics

A “very exciting” anomaly detected in larger experiments can be big news for physics

A strange gap between theoretical predictions and experimental results in one large neutrino research project can be a sign of the elusive “sterile” neutrinone – a particle that is so quiet that it can only be detected by the silence it leaves in its tracks.

This is not the first time the anomaly has been set, add previous experimental data that suggest something strange in the world of neutrino research. This time it has been discovered at the Baksan Experiment on Sterile Transitions (BEST).

Unambiguous evidence for the hypothetical sterile neutrino could give physicists a solid candidate for the universe’s mysterious supply of dark matter. On the other hand, everything can simply come down to a problem in the models used to describe old school odd behaviors neutriner.

Which would also be an important moment in the history of physics.

“The results are very exciting,” says Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist Steve Elliott.

“This definitely confirms the anomaly we’ve seen in previous experiments. But what this means is not clear. There are now conflicting results about sterile neutrinos. If the results suggest that basic nuclear or atomic physics is misunderstood, it would also be very interesting. “

Although ranked among the most common particles in the universe, neutrinos are notoriously difficult to capture. When you have hardly any mass, no electric charge and only make your presence known through the weak nuclear force, it is easy to slide through even the densest of materials unhindered.

Neutrino’s ghost-like motion is not its only interesting feature. The quantum wave of each particle morphs as it slides forward, oscillating between characteristic “flavors” that echo their negatively charged particle cousins ​​- the electron, muon and tau.

Studies of neutrino oscillations at United States Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1990s noticed gaps at the time of this flip-flopping that left room for a fourth flavor, one that would not do as much as a ripple in the weak nuclear field.

Dressed in silence, the sterile taste of neutrino would only become conspicuous by a brief pause in its interactions.

BEST is protected from cosmic neutrino sources under a mile of rock in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains. It has a double gallium tank of liquid gallium that patiently collects neutrons that break out of a core of irradiated chromium.

After measuring the amount of gallium that had turned into a germanium isotope in each tank, the researchers were able to work backwards to determine the number of direct collisions with neutrinos as they oscillated through their electron taste.

Similar to the Los Alamos experiment’s own “gallium anomaly”, researchers calculated a fifth to a quarter less germanium than expected, indicating a deficit in the expected number of electron neutrons.

This is not to say with certainty that the neutrinos had briefly adopted a sterile taste. Many other searches for the pale little particle comes up empty-handed, leaving the possibility open that the models used to predict the transformations at some level are misleading.

That in itself is not a bad thing. Corrections in the basic framework of nuclear physics can have significant consequences, which can potentially reveal gaps in Standard model which may lead to explanations for some of science’s great remaining mysteries.

If this is really the hallmark of the sterile neutrino, we can finally have evidence of a material that exists in enormous quantities, but which still only makes a gravity pit in the structure of space.

Whether it is the sum of dark matter or just a piece of its puzzle would depend on further experiments on the most ghostly ghost particles.

This research was published in Physics Review Letters and Physical examination C.

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