There are three types of neutrinos known today. When detecting them, how can we tell which type we are detecting?

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Neutrino flavor is defined as agreeing with the flavor of the charged lepton participating in the interaction, so that the neutrino in the reaction $$ \nu + A \to \mu + X \,, $$ is defined to be a muon neutrino and the one in $$ \nu + n \to e + p $$ is a electron neutrino by definition.

We have no way of knowing the alleged flavor of a neutrino participating in a neutral current interaction.

As a matter of experimental fact electron and moun neutrinos (and anti-neutrinos) are easy, but tau neutrinos are much harder because demonstrating that you have a tau-lepton is hard, but both OPERA and IceCube can do that (to chose currently running experiments).

  • $\begingroup$ Polite cough: this answer doesn't actually say how we tell which type of neutrino we're detecting. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '15 at 7:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JohnDuffield: Yes it does. If a muon suddenly appears "from nowhere", then a muon neutrino must have been there. Likewise for eletrons. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '15 at 7:29

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