From Fermilab “Frontier Science Result: MINOS Organizing the masses at MINOS”


Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

Friday, Jan. 18, 2013
Ryan Patterson, Caltech

“Over a decade ago the evidence became clear that neutrinos, which come in three varieties, can morph from one type to another as they travel, a phenomenon known as neutrino oscillation. By tallying how often this transformation happens under various conditions—different neutrino energies, different distances of travel—one can tease out a number of fundamental properties of neutrinos, for example, their relative masses. The MINOS collaboration has been doing exactly this by sending an intense beam of muon-type neutrinos from Fermilab to northern Minnesota, where a 5-kiloton detector lies in wait deep underground.

minos
The 30 m long MINOS detector comprises 486 massive octagonal planes, lined up like the slices of a loaf of bread. Each plane consists of a sheet of steel that is about 8 m high and 2.5 cm thick, covered on one side with a layer of scintillating plastic. This photo shows the final plate in the assembly. (CERN)

MINOS also collected data with an antineutrino beam, and the real excitement comes in when combining the antineutrino and neutrino data sets. Differences between the rates of this particular oscillation mode between neutrinos and antineutrinos would point to a violation of something called CP symmetry. While physicists know that CP symmetry is violated by quarks, it remains unknown whether the same is true for neutrinos.

While further data will be needed to bring the answers into sharper focus, MINOS is the first to use this accelerator-based neutrino-antineutrino technique to probe such deep questions in the neutrino sector, paving the way for the next round of measurements.”

Fermilab Campus

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.


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