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  1. Abstract

    A thorough understanding of neutrino–nucleus scattering physics is crucial for the successful execution of the entire US neutrino physics program. Neutrino–nucleus interaction constitutes one of the biggest systematic uncertainties in neutrino experiments—both at intermediate energies affecting long-baseline deep underground neutrino experiment, as well as at low energies affecting coherent scattering neutrino program—and could well be the difference between achieving or missing discovery level precision. To this end, electron–nucleus scattering experiments provide vital information to test, assess and validate different nuclear models and event generators intended to test, assess and validate different nuclear models and event generators intended to be used in neutrino experiments. Similarly, for the low-energy neutrino program revolving around the coherent elastic neutrino–nucleus scattering (CEvNS) physics at stopped pion sources, such as at ORNL, the main source of uncertainty in the evaluation of the CEvNS cross section is driven by the underlying nuclear structure, embedded in the weak form factor, of the target nucleus. To this end, parity-violating electron scattering (PVES) experiments, utilizing polarized electron beams, provide vital model-independent information in determining weak form factors. This information is vital in achieving a percent level precision needed to disentangle new physics signals from the standard model expected CEvNS rate. In this white paper, we highlight connections between electron- and neutrino–nucleus scattering physics at energies ranging from 10 s of MeV to a few GeV, review the status of ongoing and planned electron scattering experiments, identify gaps, and lay out a path forward that benefits the neutrino community. We also highlight the systemic challenges with respect to the divide between the nuclear and high-energy physics communities and funding that presents additional hurdles in mobilizing these connections to the benefit of neutrino programs.

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  6. Abstract Scattering of high energy particles from nucleons probes their structure, as was done in the experiments that established the non-zero size of the proton using electron beams 1 . The use of charged leptons as scattering probes enables measuring the distribution of electric charges, which is encoded in the vector form factors of the nucleon 2 . Scattering weakly interacting neutrinos gives the opportunity to measure both vector and axial vector form factors of the nucleon, providing an additional, complementary probe of their structure. The nucleon transition axial form factor, F A , can be measured from neutrino scattering from free nucleons, ν μ n  →  μ − p and $${\bar{\nu }}_{\mu }p\to {\mu }^{+}n$$ ν ¯ μ p → μ + n , as a function of the negative four-momentum transfer squared ( Q 2 ). Up to now, F A ( Q 2 ) has been extracted from the bound nucleons in neutrino–deuterium scattering 3–9 , which requires uncertain nuclear corrections 10 . Here we report the first high-statistics measurement, to our knowledge, of the $${\bar{\nu }}_{\mu }\,p\to {\mu }^{+}n$$ ν ¯ μ p → μ + n cross-section from the hydrogen atom, using the plastic scintillator target of the MINERvA 11 experiment, extracting F A from free proton targets and measuring the nucleon axial charge radius, r A , to be 0.73 ± 0.17 fm. The antineutrino–hydrogen scattering presented here can access the axial form factor without the need for nuclear theory corrections, and enables direct comparisons with the increasingly precise lattice quantum chromodynamics computations 12–15 . Finally, the tools developed for this analysis and the result presented are substantial advancements in our capabilities to understand the nucleon structure in the weak sector, and also help the current and future neutrino oscillation experiments 16–20 to better constrain neutrino interaction models. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 2, 2024