Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mysterious Behavior of Neutrinos sent Straight through the Earth

This rendering depicts the future NOvA detector facility on the property. Rendering by Holabird & Root.

The NOνA experiment, a collaboration of over 180 scientists from some 28 institutions, will be the world’s most advanced neutrino experiment. NOvA physicists will address the question “What happened to the antimatter in the universe?” The Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will send an intense neutrino beam from Fermilab in Illinois to the NOνA Detector Facility, a new international laboratory of the University of Minnesota’s School of Physics and Astronomy, in Ash River, about 40 miles southeast of International Falls, Minnesota.

Construction of the facility, supported under a cooperative agreement for research between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Minnesota, is expected to generate 60 to 80 jobs plus purchases of materials and services from US companies.

When the 15,000-ton NOνA detector is complete and installed at Ash River, physicists will use it to analyze the mysterious behavior of neutrinos sent straight through the earth from Fermilab in Illinois to the NOvA detector in Minnesota. The neutrinos travel the 500 miles in less than three milliseconds.

See:NOvA Neutrino Project


Using the NuMI beam to search for electron neutrino appearance.

The NOνA Experiment (Fermilab E929) will construct a detector optimized for electron neutrino detection in the existing NuMI neutrino beam. The primary goal of the experiment is to search for evidence of muon to electron neutrino oscillations. This oscillation, if it occurs, holds the key to many of the unanswered questions in neutrino oscillation physics. In addition to providing a measurement of the last unknown mixing angle, θ13, this oscillation channel opens the possibility of seeing matter/anti-matter asymmetries in neutrinos and determination of the ordering of the neutrino mass states.See:The NOνA Experiment at Fermilab (E929)



Geoneutrinos, anti-electron neutrinos emanating from the earth, are expected to serve as a unique window into the interior of our planet, revealing information that is hidden from other probes. The left half of this image shows the production distribution for the geoneutrinos detected at KamLAND, and the right half shows the geologic structure. See First Measurement of Geoneutrinos at KamLAND.


For example, when neutrinos interact with matter they produce specific kinds of other particles. Catch the neutrino at one moment, and it will interact to produce an electron. A moment later, it might interact to produce a different particle. "Neutrino mixing" describes the original mixture of waves that produces this oscillation effect.


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