In addition to the cosmic background radiation of photons, the universe is thought to be permeated with a background radiation of neutrinos (v) and anti neutrinos , currently at an effective temperature of 1.95 K. There are three species of neutrinos, each of which has an antiparticle, with only one allowed polarization state for each particle or antiparticle. For parts (a) through (c) below, assume that all three species are exactly massless.
(a) It is reasonable to assume that for each species, the concentration of neutrinos equals the concentration of antineutrinos, so that their chemical potentials are equal: Furthermore, neutrinos and antineutrinos can be produced and annihilated in pairs by the reaction
(where γ is a photon). Assuming that this reaction is at equilibrium (as it would have been in the very early universe), prove that µ = 0 for both the neutrinos and the antineutrinos.
(b) If neutrinos are massless, they must be highly relativistic. They are also fermions: They obey the exclusion principle. Use these facts to derive a formula for the total energy density (energy per unit volume) of the neutrino-antineutrino background radiation. (Hint: There are very few differences between this “neutrino gas” and a photon gas. Antiparticles still have positive energy, so to include the antineutrinos all you need is a factor of 2. To account for the three species, just multiply by 3.) To . evaluate the final integral, first change to a dimensionless variable and then use a computer or look it up in a Lable or consult Appendix B.
(c) Derive a formula for the number of neutrinos per unit volume in the neutrino background radiation. Evaluate your result numerically for the present neutrino temperature of 1.95 K.
(d) It is possible that neutrinos have very small, but nonzero, masses. This wouldn’t have affected the production of neutrinos in the early universe, when mc2 would have been negligible compared to typical thermal energies. But today, the total mass of all the background neutrinos could be significant. Suppose, then, that just one of the three species of neutrinos (and the corresponding antineutrino) has a nonzero mass m What would mc2 have to be (in eV), in order for the total mass of neutrinos in the universe to be comparable to the to the mass of ordinary matter?
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