The first neutrinos were discovered in 1956, and they came from a nuclear reactor. Inside the atomic nucleus, a process called beta decay gives birth to reactor neutrinos.
Reactors are extremely effective for investigating neutrinos since they produce vast amounts of them and only have one flavor: electron antineutrinos. It’s critical to know exactly what you’re starting with when studying how hard-to-catch particles change.
Similar to accelerator experiments, reactor experiments can place their detectors at a variety of distances from the source—the reactor. Short-, middle-, and long-baseline experiments use detectors located at various distances to offer neutrinos varied opportunities to oscillate and provide crucial information about how neutrinos vary over time.
The process of fission inside a nuclear reactor eventually results in the generation of neutrinos via beta decay. When heavy materials like uranium or plutonium hit with particles, the atoms split up into lighter elements and undergo beta decay as they become more stable. Neutrinos are energy carriers, although they are not radioactive.
Neutrinos can be measured in a variety of ways, according to scientists. One of them is theta13, which is pronounced “theta one three.” Theta13 has a lot to do with how neutrinos interact, especially how two different types of neutrinos (mass states 1 and 3) interact. Experiments in reactors were crucial in determining theta13 and other mixing angles.
Nuclear reactor studies like Double Chooz, RENO, and the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment provide the finest measurements of theta13. The amount of electron antineutrinos that vanish as they move from a close detector to a far detector, converting into other types, can be used to compute theta13.
Knowing numbers like theta13 can help us comprehend something fundamental about our universe. Finding accurate numbers allows scientists to search for asymmetries that may reveal previously unknown physics or provide answers to huge unanswered issues, such as why matter exists in the cosmos.