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Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Jun 22;108(25):252001. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

How well do we know the neutron structure function?

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Physics Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60439, USA.


We present a detailed analysis of the uncertainty in the neutron F(2n) structure function extracted from inclusive deuteron and proton deep-inelastic scattering data. The analysis includes experimental uncertainties as well as uncertainties associated with the deuteron wave function, nuclear smearing, and nucleon off-shell corrections. Correctly accounting for the Q(2) dependence of the data and calculations and restricting the nuclear corrections to microscopic models of the deuteron, we find a significantly smaller uncertainty in the extracted F(2n)/F(2p) ratio than in previous analyses. In addition to yielding an improved extraction of the neutron structure function, this analysis also provides an important baseline that can be compared to future, model-independent extractions of neutron structure to examine nuclear medium effects in the deuteron.

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