Characterizing heavy neutral fermions via their decays

André De Gouvêa, Patrick J. Fox, Boris J. Kayser, Kevin J. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics contain new electrically-neutral fermions. Should one of these particles be discovered, questions will naturally arise regarding its nature. For instance: is it a self-conjugate particle (i.e., is it a Dirac or a Majorana fermion)?, does it interact via the Standard Model force carriers or something else? One set of well-motivated particles in this class are heavy neutral leptons (HNLs), Standard Model gauge-singlet fermions that mix with the neutrinos and may be produced in meson decays. We demonstrate that measuring the three body decays of the HNL (or phenomenologically similar heavy fermions) can help determine whether they are Majorana or Dirac fermions. We also investigate the ability to distinguish among different models for the physics responsible for the HNL decay. We compare the reach assuming full and partial event reconstruction, and propose experimental analyses. Should a new fermion be discovered, studying its three body decays provides a powerful diagnostic tool of its nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number015019
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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