Classical and Quantum Evolution in a Simple Coherent Neutrino Problem

The extraordinary neutrino flux produced in extreme astrophysical environments like the early universe, core-collapse supernovae and neutron star mergers may produce coherent quantum neutrino oscillations on macroscopic length scales. The Hamiltonian describing this evolution can be mapped into quantum spin models with all-to-all couplings arising from neutrino-neutrino forward scattering. To date many studies of these oscillations have been performed in a mean-field limit where the neutrinos time evolve in a product state.

We examine a simple two-beam model evolving from an initial product state and compare the mean-field and many-body evolution. The symmetries in this model allow us to solve the real-time evolution for the quantum many-body system for hundreds or thousands of spins, far beyond what would be possible in a more general case with an exponential number (2N) of quantum states. We compare mean-field and many-body solutions for different initial product states and ratios of one- and two-body couplings, and find that in all cases in the limit of infinite spins the mean-field (product state) and many-body solutions coincide for simple observables. This agreement can be understood as a consequence of the spectrum of the Hamiltonian and the initial energy distribution of the product states. We explore quantum information measures like entanglement entropy and purity of the many-body solutions, finding intriguing relationships between the quantum information measures and the dynamical behavior of simple physical observables.