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CNO and pep neutrino spectroscopy in Borexino: Measurement of the deep underground production of cosmogenic 11C in organic liquid scintillator

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevC.74.045805

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Abstract:

Borexino is an experiment for low energy neutrino spectroscopy at the Gran Sasso underground laboratories. It is designed to measure the mono-energetic $^7$Be solar neutrino flux in real time, via neutrino-electron elastic scattering in ultra-pure organic liquid scintillator. Borexino has the potential to also detect neutrinos from the \emph{pep} fusion process and the CNO cycle. For this measurement to be possible, radioactive contamination in the detector must be kept extremely low. Once sufficiently clean conditions are met, the main background source is $^{11}$C, produced in reactions induced by the residual cosmic muon flux on $^{12}$C. In the process, a free neutron is almost always produced. $^{11}$C can be tagged on an event by event basis by looking at the three-fold coincidence with the parent muon track and the subsequent neutron capture on protons. This coincidence method has been implemented on the Borexino Counting Test Facility data. We report on the first event by event identification of \emph{in situ} muon induced $^{11}$C in a large underground scintillator detector. We measure a $^{11}$C production rate of 0.130 $\pm$ 0.026 (stat) $\pm$ 0.014 (syst) day$^{-1}$ ton$^{-1}$, in agreement with predictions from both experimental studies performed with a muon beam on a scintillator target and \emph{ab initio} estimations based on the $^{11}$C producing nuclear reactions.

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