Experimental Particle Physics Research Group

NOνA

With long-baseline accelerator experiments we do the extraordinary thing of firing a beam of neutrinos around 1000 km through the Earth. The three neutrinos have slightly different masses and so for a given energy the heaviest neutrino travels slightly slower than the lightest. This difference in speed gives rise to a quantum mechanical effect called neutrino oscillations and it is very hard to detect, which is why we need to fire the neutrinos over such a long distance.

The recent discovery in 2012 of the last neutrino mixing angle (θ13) has opened a door to discovering the pattern of the neutrino masses and whether neutrinos violate CP symmetry: two of the very last missing pieces of the standard model of particle physics extended to include neutrino masses. Neutrinos may provide the answer to the big question of why the universe is dominated by matter and not antimatter.

For LBNE at Sussex we are working on the prototype detectors to develop the exciting liquid argon time-projection chamber technology for the next generation experiment that will be a sensitive probe of leptonic CP violation.

With the NOvA experiment from 2015 we will compare data taken with a beam of neutrinos to those from a beam of antineutrinos, looking for differences. The physics reach of NOvA is currently unique due to its long-baseline combined with the high power and well understood beam of (anti)neutrinos.