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Impact of cross-section uncertainties on supernova neutrino spectral parameter fitting in the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment

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Article number112012
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/06/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Physical Review D
Issue number11
Number of pages25
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


A primary goal of the upcoming Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) is to measure the $\mathcal{O}(10)$ MeV neutrinos produced by a Galactic core-collapse supernova if one should occur during the lifetime of the experiment. The liquid-argon-based detectors planned for DUNE are expected to be uniquely sensitive to the $\nu_e$ component of the supernova flux, enabling a wide variety of physics and astrophysics measurements. A key requirement for a correct interpretation of these measurements is a good understanding of the energy-dependent total cross section $\sigma(E_\nu)$ for charged-current $\nu_e$ absorption on argon. In the context of a simulated extraction of supernova $\nu_e$ spectral parameters from a toy analysis, we investigate the impact of $\sigma(E_\nu)$ modeling uncertainties on DUNE's supernova neutrino physics sensitivity for the first time. We find that the currently large theoretical uncertainties on $\sigma(E_\nu)$ must be substantially reduced before the $\nu_e$ flux parameters can be extracted reliably: in the absence of external constraints, a measurement of the integrated neutrino luminosity with less than 10\% bias with DUNE requires $\sigma(E_\nu)$ to be known to about 5%. The neutrino spectral shape parameters can be known to better than 10% for a 20% uncertainty on the cross-section scale, although they will be sensitive to uncertainties on the shape of $\sigma(E_\nu)$. A direct measurement of low-energy $\nu_e$-argon scattering would be invaluable for improving the theoretical precision to the needed level.