Monte Carlo simulations of a near-solar orbit neutrino detector
Neutrinos—weakly interacting subatomic particles often resultant of nuclear processes, including hydrogen fusion—are the only direct insight into the core of the Sun. Previously constructed neutrino detection experiments have successfully detected solar-origin neutrinos, proving hydrogen fusion to be the Sun’s energy production mechanism; however, these experiments’ large size and Earth-based location limit their capabilities. A solar neutrino detection satellite orbiting the sun with a close approach distance of 7 to 3 solar radii could revolutionize solar interior studies. At such proximity, the neutrino flux increases by several orders of magnitude allowing for a much smaller detector design than Earth-based devices. An off-ecliptic orbital location also allows for fusion core geometry studies. To pursue these improvements, a scintillation detector using gallium-doped liquid scintillator and veto array methods has been devised. Interactions between neutrinos and gallium nuclei can result in a sequentially released electron and gamma-ray/X-ray, giving distinct double-pulse signals in the detector. The veto array is a secondary detection assembly to filter external-source charged particles. Presented here are the methods and results from Monte Carlo simulations of particle events visible to the detector. This code incorporates background event rates obtained from Geant4 simulations of the detector assembly, and neutrino interaction rates based on scaling of similar, Earth-based experiments’ performance to the detector’s parameters. The code output is examined to find the number of true double-pulse signals versus those of false signals. Establishing experiment parameters necessary for a false event detection rate less than 20% is a primary goal of these simulations.
Thesis (M.S.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Mathematics, Statistics, and Physics