The Physics Behind No\(\nu\)a


The \({\rm NO}\nu{\rm A}\) experiment is a long-term experiment looking to study neutrino oscillations using the newly upgraded NuMI (Neutrinos at the Main Injector) beam at Fermilab, allowing for more sensitive measurements than possible before. Following the non-zero measurement of the mixing angle (\(\theta_{13}\)), there is hope that the collider can now be used to study the neutrino mass hierarchy with more certainity, as well as put a limit on the CP violating phase (\(\delta_{cp}\)). In this paper, I will briefly introduce neutrino oscillations and the planned measurement of the mixing angle and mass hierarchy at \({\rm NO}\nu{\rm A}\) as well as its implications on neutrino physics.


In 1934, when the parts of the standard model were first being pieced together, Enrico Fermi introduced a massless particle called a neutrino that is fermionic in nature and does not ineract with baryonic matter, in order to explain how beta decay could convserve fundamental quantities (energy, spin, etc.) (Wilson 1968). For a while, only electron neutrinos were thought to exist. However, fifty years later in 1988, Lederman, Schwartz, and Steinberger earned the Nobel Prize in physics for work they did in 1962 at the Alternating Gradient Synchotron at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. In their paper, the group from Columbia reported that they had found a second kind of neutrino that did not couple to the electron like the one proposed by Fermi, but instead to muons produced by their beam in upstate New York(Danby 1962). Another forty years passed before the third generation of neutrino was dicovered in 2000 by the DONUT collaboration at Fermilab near Chicago, Illinois(Kodama 2001). For a long while, these various “flavors” of neutrinos were thought to not couple with anything apart from their respective fermion. However, people reasoned that it wasn’t impossible that these neutrinos could interact with other forms of matter.