MadSci Network: Physics

Re: How is a neutrino beam generated in a particle accelerator ?

Date: Fri Aug 18 17:52:18 2000
Posted By: Benjamin Monreal, Grad student, Physics, MIT
Area of science: Physics
ID: 966554097.Ph

Hello James,

I'll answer your question first with a diagram. Then I'll talk a bit about what is going on. Here's a typical muon neutrino beam:

high-    hits       pions    eventually, the pions decay:
energy   graphite   come     pi --> muon + neutrino
proton   target     out                    
beam       ||| . "                        
           ||| . :              \|/         |=======|
---->------>bang!--->--------> >poof< ----->|=======|---------> except the
           ||| * .              /|\         |=======|           neutrinos,
           ||| ...                         the beam passes      which
           |||                             through hundreds     make it
	                                   of feet of iron,     through. 
                                           lead, dirt, which    
                                           everything crashes
                                           into and stops ...

That's how you get a neutrino beam! There are a few points of particle physics to point out.

Oh, and techniques are fairly similar if you want electron-neutrino or tau-neutrino beams ... you'd want something other than the pion decay to produce them, but that's easy enough.

A good article on neutrino experiments: here Some beam-experiment names and locations: BooNE and DONUT at Fermilab, NOMAD and CHORUS at CERN in Europe, K2K at KEK in Japan, all of which have Web pages. The Particle Data Group can tell you more about neutrinos, too.

Good question ... the original answer, after all, was worth a Nobel prize.

-Ben Monreal

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