New Research Rules Out Sterile Neutrinos as the Cause of Reactor Anomaly
Scientists had hoped that an anomaly in the storm of a nuclear reactor would lead to new insights into dark matter, one of the most enigmatic mysteries in the universe. The detection of a strange measurement had raised the possibility that it could signal the existence of a “sterile neutrino,” a hypothetical particle that has long been sought by scientists.
However, new research has definitively ruled out the possibility that this anomaly was caused by a sterile neutrino.
Neutrinos are known as “ghost particles” because they interact very little with other matter, with an estimated 100 trillion passing through our bodies every second. Since they were first theorized in 1930, scientists have been trying to understand the properties of these shape-shifting particles, which are among the most common in the universe.
Neutrinos are produced when the nature of the nucleus of an atom changes. according to physicist David Lhuillier of France’s Atomic Energy Commission.
Neutrinos can be produced when they come together in the fusion in the heart of stars, like the sun or when they are broken apart in nuclear reactors, according to David Lhuillier.
Currently, scientists have confirmed the existence of three flavors of neutrino: electron, muon and tau. However, some physicists believe that there could be a fourth neutrino, known as the “sterile” neutrino, which does not interact with ordinary matter at all.
Theoretically, the sterile neutrino would only respond to gravity and not the fundamental force of weak interactions, which affect the other neutrinos. The sterile neutrino has a place in theoretical physics, but there is currently no clear evidence that it exists.
Dark matter candidate
Lhuillier and the STEREO collaboration, a team of French and German scientists, aimed to find evidence of the existence of sterile neutrinos. A phenomenon known as the “reactor antineutrino anomaly,” which is fewer neutrinos than expected by theoretical models, had been observed in previous nuclear reactor measurements, leading to the suggestion that the missing neutrinos had changed into the sterile kind.
To investigate this, the STEREO collaboration installed a detector a few meters away from a nuclear reactor at the Laue–Langevin institute in Grenoble, France. After four years of observations and two years of data analysis, the team published their findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
The anomaly cannot be explained by sterile neutrinos, according to Lhuillier. However, this does not mean that there are no sterile neutrinos in the universe. The experiment provided a clearer understanding of neutrinos emitted by nuclear reactors, which could be useful for future research and for monitoring nuclear reactors.
The search for the sterile neutrino continues, with particle accelerators, which smash atoms, being a possible source of new information. Despite the lack of evidence for their existence, the sterile neutrino remains of interest due to its potential connection to dark matter, which makes up more than a quarter of the universe but remains largely mysterious. Like dark matter, the sterile neutrino does not interact with ordinary matter, making it difficult to observe.
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