A New Neutrino Oscillation

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Starting in the late 1960s, neutrino detectors began to see signs that neutrinos, now known to come in the flavors electron ({nu}{sub e}), muon ({nu}{sub {mu}}), and tau ({nu}{sub {tau}}), could transform from one flavor to another. The findings implied that neutrinos must have mass, since massless particles travel at the speed of light and their clocks, so to speak, don't tick, thus they cannot change. What has since been discovered is that neutrinos oscillate at two distinct scales, 500 km/GeV and 15,000 km/GeV, which are defined by the baseline (L) of the experiment (the distance the neutrino travels) divided ... continued below

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2 pages

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Parke, Stephen J. July 1, 2011.

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Starting in the late 1960s, neutrino detectors began to see signs that neutrinos, now known to come in the flavors electron ({nu}{sub e}), muon ({nu}{sub {mu}}), and tau ({nu}{sub {tau}}), could transform from one flavor to another. The findings implied that neutrinos must have mass, since massless particles travel at the speed of light and their clocks, so to speak, don't tick, thus they cannot change. What has since been discovered is that neutrinos oscillate at two distinct scales, 500 km/GeV and 15,000 km/GeV, which are defined by the baseline (L) of the experiment (the distance the neutrino travels) divided by the neutrino energy (E). Neutrinos of one flavor can oscillate into neutrinos of another flavor at both L/E scales, but the amplitude of these oscillations is different for the two scales and depends on the initial and final flavor of the neutrinos. The neutrino states that propogate unchanged in time, the mass eigenstates {nu}1, {nu}2, {nu}3, are quantum mechanical mixtures of the electron, muon, and tau neutrino flavors, and the fraction of each flavor in a given mass eigenstate is controlled by three mixing angles and a complex phase. Two of these mixing angles are known with reasonable precision. An upper bound exists for the third angle, called {theta}{sub 13}, which controls the size of the muon neutrino to electron neutrino oscillation at an L/E of 500 km/GeV. The phase is completely unknown. The existence of this phase has important implications for the asymmetry between matter and antimatter we observe in the universe today. Experiments around the world have steadily assembled this picture of neutrino oscillation, but evidence of muon neutrino to electron neutrino oscillation at 500 km/GeV has remained elusive. Now, a paper from the T2K (Tokai to Kamioka) experiment in Japan, reports the first possible observation of muon neutrinos oscillating into electron neutrinos at 500 km/GeV. They see 6 candidate signal events, above an expected background of 1.5 events. The probability that the 6 events are all background is only about 0.7%. Stated differently, this is a 2.7{sigma} indication that the parameter that controls the oscillation, the neutrino mixing angle {theta}{sub 13}, is nonzero, just shy of the 3{sigma} requirement to claim 'evidence for.' Nevertheless, this experiment provides the strongest indication to date that this oscillation actually occurs in nature.

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2 pages

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  • Journal Name: Physics 4:57,2011; Journal Volume: 4

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  • Report No.: FERMILAB-PUB-11-324-T
  • Grant Number: AC02-07CH11359
  • DOI: 10.1103/Physics.4.57 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1021484
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc843537

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • July 1, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Aug. 30, 2016, 6:12 p.m.

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Parke, Stephen J. A New Neutrino Oscillation, article, July 1, 2011; Batavia, Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc843537/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.