Researchers develop novel approach to modeling as-yet-unconfirmed rare nuclear process

July 8, 2020, 4:49PMAround the Web

According to a recent story published by AAAS, researchers from the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams Laboratory at Michigan State University have taken a major step toward a theoretical first-principles description of neutrinoless double-beta decay.

The binary code (1, 0) on the particles in the graphic symbolizes the computer simulations which will be performed to better understand neutrinoless double-beta decay. Certain nuclei decay by emitting electrons (e) and neutrinos (ν), but the existence of a neutrinoless double-beta decay has been hypothesized. Credit: Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

What is neutrinoless double-beta decay? If it exists, it’s when two protons simultaneously transform into neutrons without emitting the two neutrinos that appear in more typical weak-interaction processes. It would be an extremely rare decay, expected to have a half-life greater than 10 septillion years (a 1 with 25 zeroes).

What does it mean? The work marks an important milestone toward a theoretical calculation of neutrinoless double-beta decay rates with fully controlled and quantified uncertainties. Observation of this reaction would demonstrate that neutrinos are their own antiparticles, leading to a possible explanation for why the universe contains more matter than antimatter. The observation would also direct efforts to complete the Standard Model of particle physics.

The research team presented their results in an article recently published in Physical Review Letters.

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