|Tingjun Yang (left) and Wesley Ketchum lead the effort to develop new 3-D reconstruction |
software for the MicroBooNE experiment. Here they stand inside the MicroBooNE
time projection chamber.Photo: Reidar Hahn
Imagine your job is to analyze the data coming from Fermilab's MicroBooNE experiment.
It wouldn't be an easy task. MicroBooNE has been designed specifically to follow up on the MiniBooNE experiment, which may have seen hints of a fourth type of neutrino, one that does not interact with matter in the same way as the three types we know about. The big clue to the possible existence of these particles is low-energy electrons.
But that experiment could not adequately separate the production of electrons from the production of photons, which would not indicate a new particle. MicroBooNE's detector, an 89-ton active volume liquid-argon time projection chamber, will be able to. To take advantage of this, every neutrino interaction in the chamber will have to be examined to determine if it created an electron or a photon.
And there will be a lot of interactions to study — the MicroBooNE collaboration expects to see activity in their detector once every 20 seconds, including nearly 150 neutrino interactions each day.
If all goes to plan, human operators won't have to worry about any of that. When MicroBooNE switches on next summer, it will sport one of the most sophisticated 3-D reconstruction software programs ever designed for a neutrino experiment.
According to Wesley Ketchum and Tingjun Yang, two postdocs leading the software development team at Fermilab, MicroBooNE's computers will be able to accurately reconstruct neutrino interactions and automatically filter the ones that create electrons. The key to accomplishing this lies in the design of the time projection chamber.