From Symmetry: “US-CERN partnership to accelerate neutrino research”

US institutions are working with the SHINE experiment at CERN to better understand the particle interactions that produce neutrinos.

December 19, 2012
Signe Brewster

“A new partnership between scientists from US institutions and CERN could improve results from neutrino experiments around the world. The scientists hope to use equipment at CERN to gain a more precise understanding of the process of creating a neutrino beam…”

NA61/SHINE detector layout
NA61/SHINE (SHINE = SPS Heavy Ion and Neutrino Experiment) is a particle physics experiment at the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) at (CERN)

Super Proton Synchrotron

The Super Proton Synchrotron is the second largest machine in CERN’s accelerator complex.

[Extra graphics added in to let the reader see the significance of the collaboration.]

“…Neutrinos are neutral in charge, so scientists cannot manipulate them with magnets in a particle accelerator. To create a neutrino beam, researchers accelerate positively charged protons and smash them into a fixed target made of beryllium or carbon. The resulting particle interactions produce pions and kaons, which also have charge. Physicists steer these particles into beams, at which point they decay into chargeless neutrinos.

Scientists from Fermilab, Los Alamos National Lab, University of Colorado, University of Pittsburgh and the College of William and Mary set out to sharpen their understanding of the initial interaction between the protons and the target. This will allow the collection of precise measurements for experiments such as Fermilab’s MINOS, MINERvA and the proposed Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment, along with the T2K experiment in Japan.

The scientists discovered that they did not have to build a new experiment to make this type of measurement; it is already within the capabilities of another experiment at CERN. The SHINE experiment’s detector was designed to study strongly interacting matter, quark-gluon plasma and the production of composite particles. But it can also track and measure particles produced during the first step of the neutrino-beam-creation process: when protons collide with a fixed target. Researchers from the United States visited CERN this summer to try it out.

This isn’t the first time neutrino researchers based in the United States have partnered with experiments based at CERN, says Los Alamos physicist Geoffrey Mills, who organized the SHINE pilot run at CERN: ‘In 2002, a similar collaboration with the HARP experiment at CERN greatly enhanced Fermilab’s booster neutrino program.'”

HARP (The Hadron Production Experiment at the PS)

We should all hope that this collaboration is successful. See the full Symmetry article here.


Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

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