We show that flavor evolution of a system of neutrinos with continuous energy spectra as in supernovae can be understood in terms of the response of individual neutrino flavor-isospins (NFIS's) to the mean field. In the case of a system initially consisting of νe and ν̄e with the same energy spectrum but different number densities, the mean field is very well approximated by the total angular momentum of a neutrino gyroscope. Assuming that NFIS evolution is independent of the initial neutrino emission angle, the so-called single-angle approximation, we find that the evolution is governed by two types of resonances driven by precession and nutation of the gyroscope, respectively. The net flavor transformation crucially depends on the adiabaticity of evolution through these resonances. We show that the results for the system of two initial neutrino species can be extended to a system of four species with the initial number densities of νe and ν̄e significantly larger than those of νx and ν̄x. Further, we find that when the dependence on the initial neutrino emission angle is taken into account in the multiangle approximation, nutation of the mean field is quickly damped out and can be neglected. In contrast, precession-driven resonances still govern the evolution of NFIS's with different energy and emission angles just as in the single-angle approximation. Our pedagogical and analytic study of collective neutrino oscillations in supernovae provides some insights into these seemingly complicated yet fascinating phenomena.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology|
|State||Published - Aug 5 2011|