Must Faster-than Light Neutrinos Cause Cerenkov Radiation?

Cherenkov Radiation Credit: Wikipedia

Cherenkov Radiation Credit: Wikipedia

A recent criticism of the apparently Faster-than-light (FTL) Neutrinos inspiring a lot of discussion is the claim that if Neutrinos are going FTL – they must cause Cherenkov radiation.

Why? That doesn’t make sense. And its never been observed so how would anyone test that?

Cherenkov Radiation Requires Charged Particles – But Neutrinos Have No Charge

The beautiful blue-violet glow of Cherenkov Radiation is only caused by charged particles, primarily electrons.

But Neutrinos are neutral, they have no charge. Furthermore, because they are fundamental particles; they don’t have any electrons.

Commentary: Since Neutrinos have never been observed directly making Cherenkov Radiation – why should anyone imagine they should?

Yes, Neutrinos are commonly detected by observing Cherenkov Radiation, but indirectly – not directly. That extremely rare Cherenkov Radiation detection glow is not from a Neutrino – it comes from an Electron. It occurs in the extremely rare event of a Neutrino hitting an Electron head-on.

This particular suggestion does not seem to hold water.

However, you might want to read why Matt Strassler disagrees. He bases this on the existence of a Neutrino non-zero magnetic moment. My response is that no Neutrino magnetic moment has ever been observed either; it is only postulated.

I do remain concerned that the OPERA experiment is only Detecting Only 1 Neutrino per Hour.

References:
New Constraints on Neutrino Velocities

Cherenkov radiation From Wikipedia

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2 Responses to Must Faster-than Light Neutrinos Cause Cerenkov Radiation?

  1. katesisco says:

    they are projected to produce c radiation when traveling through matter not vacuum. I guess it would have to be extremely pressurized or extremely magnetic or both.

  2. David says:

    Thank you for your thought Kate.

    Can you help offer an explanation why it would make any difference if Neutrinos were going through highly charged matter, extremely dense matter or a vacuum.

    Neutrinos are still neutral and they don’t have any electrons – so they don’t interact with matter – even extremely highly charged matter — unless they hit a quark or an electron head on (or graze by allowing their breathtakingly miniscule gravity or their weak force to affect the other particle).

    That would be a exquisitely rare event, not a typical (or common) occurrence that is required by the FTL Cherenkov radiation hypothesis.

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