New particle probably can’t explain nuclear reactor neutrino mystery | Science News

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New particle probably can’t explain nuclear reactor neutrino mystery

Experimental discrepancy seems due to faulty predictions instead

By
9:38am, April 14, 2017
neutrino

NO NEW NEUTRINO  Scientists with the Daya Bay experiment in China, shown above, have determined that a shortage of neutrinos from nuclear reactors is probably due to a miscalculation, not a new type of neutrino.

A puzzling neutrino shortfall seems to be due to faulty predictions, not a new particle.

In experiments at nuclear reactors, scientists have consistently found about 6 percent fewer antineutrinos, the antimatter form of neutrinos, than expected. That deficit could hint that the lightweight particles are morphing into undetectable new particles called sterile neutrinos (SN: 3/19/16, p. 14). But in a paper published online April 4 at arXiv.org, scientists with the Daya Bay experiment, located near a nuclear power plant in China, point to the calculations that underlie scientists’ predictions to explain the missing antineutrinos.

Inside nuclear reactors, multitudes of antineutrinos are born in radioactive decays of isotopes such as uranium-235 and plutonium-239. Scientists can predict how many antineutrinos each isotope

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