A major milestone in particle physics has just been achieved.
The first candidate neutrinos have been detected in any particle collider.
The feasibility of the technology, and the six interactions detected using the FASERnu, show that the technology can be used to study the mysterious particles.
Jonathan Feng of the University of California Irvine is a co-leader of the FASER Collaboration.
The breakthrough will help develop a deeper understanding of the elusive particles and their role in the Universe.
There are Neutrinos everywhere. They're one of the most abundant particles in the Universe, but they don't have a charge or mass, so they don't interact with it at all. Billions of things are moving through you. The rest of the Universe is incorporeal, which is why they're called ghost particles.
They rarely interact, but that's not the same as never. When a neutrino interacts with other particles in a completely dark environment, a sensitive photodetector array is used to pick up the showers of light that emerge.
Scientists have wanted to study neutrinos for a long time. The decay of hadrons leads to the creation of collider neutrinos, which are not very well studied. There are rare types of neutrinos that are not seen elsewhere.
FASERnu is a detector that looks for emulsions. During particle experiments at the LHC, the particles produced by the colliders can leave tracks in the emulsion layers, similar to the way ionizing radiation makes tracks in a cloud chamber.
The plates need to be developed. Physicists can analyze the particle trails to find out what produced them, and then what the neutrino's 'flavor' was. There are three different types of neutrinos, electron, muon andtau.
Six candidate neutrino interactions were recorded in the FASERnu pilot run. It's not like a lot, but it gave the collaboration two important pieces of information.
The position of the ATLAS interaction point at the LHC was verified as the right location for detecting collider neutrinos. The effectiveness of using an emulsion detector to observe these types of interactions was demonstrated.
The pilot detector was a small piece of equipment. The full version is around 1,100 kilograms. The researchers will be able to differentiate between the antineutrino and the neutrino flavors with this instrument.
The third observing run of the Large Hadron collider is expected to produce 200 billion electron neutrinos, 6 trillion muon neutrinos, and 9 billion tau neutrinos. This will be a big deal since we have only detected around 10.
The collaboration is looking for more elusive prey. They have their hopes pinned on a detection of dark photons, which are at the moment hypothetical, but which could help reveal the nature of dark matter, the mysterious directly-undetectable mass that makes up most of the Universe's matter.
The detections of the neutrinos alone are a huge step forward in understanding the fundamental components of the Universe.
The FASER project will be able to record more than 10,000 neutrino interactions in the next run of the LHC, thanks to the power of the new detector and its prime location at CERN.
The highest-energy neutrinos that have ever been produced from a human-made source will be detected.
The team's research has been published.