A new study reveals more aspects of neutrino motion
Little is known about the tiny, ubiquitous particles known as neutrinos. We know that there are three types, but not much beyond that. It is very difficult to tell these different types apart, or calculate their mass. Fortunately, we may get some answers from the NuMI Off-Axis Electron Neutrino Appearance (NOvA) experiment.
According to News Ledge, some scientists involved in the experiment recently announced that they have made an important step towards understanding neutrinos. They reported the first evidence of oscillating neutrinos, which confirms the detector built for the project is functioning as expected.
The particle detector involved in this experiment is massive: 50 feet tall, 50 feet wide and 200 feet long. It is capable of detecting neutrinos fired from 500 miles away from its position in Ash River, Minnesota.
The experiment works by generating a neutrino beam at the Fermilab near Chicago, Illinois. This beam composition is measured by an underground detector before it leaves Fermilab site. The beam then travels 500-miles straight through the Earth to the massive detector in Minnesota. During this journey, according to the new findings, the neutrinos oscillate.
The ramifications of this new knowledge are still not fully understood, but the potential knowledge to be gained is limitless. If, for example, the experiment reveals that muon antineutrinos oscillate at a different rate than muon neutrinos, this would reveal a lack of symmetry between the two particles. This could be a clue to why the universe has more matter than antimatter, or, put more simply, the reason anything exists.