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Helicity (quantum mechanics)
A fundamental quantized variable used in quantum mechanics to specify the relative orientations of spin and linear momentum of massless particles. It is a requirement of fundamental Dirac quantum mechanics that such particles have their spins aligned either parallel or antiparallel to their linear momentum. Particles having parallel alignment are arbitrarily assigned helicity +1; those having antiparallel alignment, -1. See Momentum, Spin (quantum mechanics)
In a classic experiment on K electron capture by 152Eu, M. Goldhaber, L. Grodzins, and A. Sunyar first showed that the neutrino emitted in the weak nuclear interaction had negative helicity—that its spin was aligned antiparallel to its momentum. An equivalent description of this situation is that these neutrinos are left-handed. Symmetry requires that antineutrinos be right-handed and have positive helicity. See Electron capture, Elementary particle, Neutrino, Quantum mechanics, Symmetry laws (physics)
(η), a fundamental quantized variable (quantum number) characterizing the state of elementary particles. It is the projection of the spin of a particle on the direction of its motion. If η > 0, the particle is said to have right-hand, or positive, helicity; if η < 0, the particle has left-hand, or negative, helicity.