The separation of contributions from multi- and single-meson production in the missing mass spectrum of the quasi-free pn -> pn X reaction constitutes a challenging task when the reaction is studied close to threshold. This is especially true if the resolution of the mass determination is comparable with the excess energy and if the investigated signal appears close to the kinematical limit. In this article we outline a method which permits the extraction of the signal originating from the creation of a single meson without the necessity of conducting model-dependent simulations. For the pd -> pn X p(spectator) reactions, the method allows one to combine events corresponding to multi-meson production at various excess energies with respect to the pn -> pn meson process, and hence leads to an increase of the statistics needed for the determination of the shape of the multi-meson background.
As an example of the application of the method, we demonstrate that the evaluation of the data from the pd -> pn X p(spectator) process according to the described technique enables one to extract a signal of the pn -> pn eta reaction whose shape is consistent with expectations, supporting the correctness and usefulness of the method introduced.
Publication: J.Phys. G32 (2006) 629-641