Determination of antineutrino spectra from nuclear reactors
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In this paper we study the effect of well-known higher-order corrections to the allowed beta-decay spectrum on the determination of antineutrino spectra resulting from the decays of fission fragments. In particular, we try to estimate the associated theory errors and find that induced currents like weak magnetism may ultimately limit our ability to improve the current accuracy and under certain circumstance could even greatly increase the theoretical errors. We also perform a critical evaluation of the errors associated with our method to extract the antineutrino spectrum using synthetic beta spectra. It turns out that a fit using only virtual beta branches with a judicious choice of the effective nuclear charge provides results with a minimal bias. We apply this method to actual data for (235)U, (239)Pu, and (241)Pu and confirm, within errors, recent results, which indicate a net 3% upward shift in energy-averaged antineutrino fluxes. However, we also find significant shape differences which can, in principle, be tested by high-statistics antineutrino data samples.