QED radiative corrections for accelerator neutrinos

Oleksandr Tomalak, Qing Chen, Richard J. Hill, Kevin S. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Neutrino oscillation experiments at accelerator energies aim to establish charge-parity violation in the neutrino sector by measuring the energy-dependent rate of νe appearance and νμ disappearance in a νμ beam. These experiments can precisely measure νμ cross sections at near detectors, but νe cross sections are poorly constrained and require theoretical inputs. In particular, quantum electrodynamics radiative corrections are different for electrons and muons. These corrections are proportional to the small quantum electrodynamics coupling α ≈ 1/137; however, the large separation of scales between the neutrino energy and the proton mass (~GeV), and the electron mass and soft-photon detection thresholds (~MeV) introduces large logarithms in the perturbative expansion. The resulting flavor differences exceed the percent-level experimental precision and depend on nonperturbative hadronic structure. We establish a factorization theorem for exclusive charged-current (anti)neutrino scattering cross sections representing them as a product of two factors. The first factor is flavor universal; it depends on hadronic and nuclear structure and can be constrained by high-statistics νμ data. The second factor is non-universal and contains logarithmic enhancements, but can be calculated exactly in perturbation theory. For charged-current elastic scattering, we demonstrate the cancellation of uncertainties in the predicted ratio of νe and νμ cross sections. We point out the potential impact of non-collinear energetic photons and the distortion of the visible lepton spectra, and provide precise predictions for inclusive observables.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5286
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Clarence Wret for checking the leading order calculations presented here against generator calculations, Kaushik Borah for an independent validation of antineutrino-proton cross-section expression, and Emanuele Mereghetti and Ryan Plestid for discussions. This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of High Energy Physics, under Awards DE-SC0019095 and DE-SC0008475. Fermilab is operated by Fermi Research Alliance, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC02-07CH11359 with the United States Department of Energy. O.T. acknowledges support by the Visiting Scholars Award Program of the Universities Research Association, theory groups at Fermilab and Institute for Nuclear Physics at JGU Mainz for warm hospitality. O.T. is supported by the US Department of Energy through the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by Triad National Security, LLC, for the National Nuclear Security Administration of U.S. Department of Energy (Contract No. 89233218CNA000001). This research is funded by LANL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD/PRD) program under project number 20210968PRD4. Q.C. acknowledges KITP Graduate Fellow program supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Simons Foundation, and National Science Foundation Grant No. NSF PHY-1748958. R.J.H. acknowledges support from the Neutrino Theory Network at Fermilab. K.S.M. acknowledges support from a Fermilab Intensity Frontier Fellowship during the early stages of this work, and from the University of Rochester’s Steven Chu Professorship in Physics.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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