Neutrino Oscillations

Recall from last lecture:

Neutrino Mixing

In the remaining discussion, we will assume that neutrinos are "standard" Dirac particles.

For many years, the Standard Model assumed that neutrinos are massless, only because all evidence was consistent with this assumption, and the resulting equations were somewhat simplified. But what happens if we drop this assumption? Then neutrinos can have small, but finite masses. Additionally, they may have non-diagonal couplings to W bosons, in the same way that the down-type quarks have non-diagonal couplings. The down-type quark couplings involve the CKM matrix, and in a similar spirit, the neutrino couplings involve a complex, 3×3 matrix known as the MNS matrix.

As with the quarks, the result is that the mass eigenstates, and the weak eigenstates are not the same. Consider an example with two neutrinos, weak eigenstates νe and νμ, and mass eigenstates ν1 and ν2, related by a 2×2 matrix:

νe -sinθcosθν2
We assume that in a reaction, the weak eigenstate is created. But ν1 and ν2 are the mass eigenstates, with masses m1 and m2. (The experimental evidence suggests that the masses are very small, both in the eV range. The mass difference is undetectable in the energy of other outgoing particles.) The propagation of the mass eigenstates in space is governed by:
ν1(t) = ν1(0) exp(-iE1t)
ν2(t) = ν2(0) exp(-iE2t)
The weak eigenstate is created with a given momentum, p, and this is also the momentum of the mass eigenstates ν1 and ν2. For neutrino masses much less than the momentum, the energies are approximately
Ei = p + mi2/2p

Assume that at t=0 we start off with a pure electron neutrino state, νe(0) = 1, and νμ(0) = 0. We can find the initial amounts of ν1 and ν2 by inverting the mixing expression:

ν2 sinθcosθνe
ν1(0) = -sinθ νe(0)
ν2(0) = cosθ νe(0)
νe(t) = -sinθ ν1(t) + cosθ ν2(t)

If sometime later, we try to detect the electron neutrinos, we will in general detect fewer than without oscillation. This can be seen by including the time dependence of the

Experimental Evidence for Oscillations

The evidence for oscillations can be of several types:

All the experimental evidence to date is of the first type, disappearance. I'll discuss the experiments in approximate chronological order.

Solar Neutrinos

Many of the fusion processes occurring in the Sun produce neutrinos. The original impetus for measuring "solar neutrinos" was to prove beyond any doubt that fusion occurs in the Sun and is the source of energy.

Homestake Mine Experiment

The first apparatus to detect solar neutrinos was constructed in the Homestake mine in North Dakota by Ray Davis and collaborators.

Kamiokande and SuperKamiokande



Summary of Solar Neutrino Measurements

The neutrino physics that has come from these measurements originally called into question the above statement, or at least questioned if the model of solar fusion was completely correct.

Atmospheric Neutrinos

Reactor Neutrinos



Neutrino Beams




Copyright © Robert Harr 2003