Fermilab announced that its NOvA experiment is a success, after it detected neutrinos fired from 500 miles away. The experiment aims to study the ghostly particles called neutrinos that pass through ordinary matter as though it never existed there.
The new analysis of the first study results was presented at the American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, US, proving that the massive particle detector actually works. NOvA co-spokesperson Peter Shanahan with the U.S Department of Energy said that the people who have worked over a course of a decade on the designing, building, commissioning and operating this experiment were gratified.
“People are ecstatic to see our first observation of neutrino oscillations,” said Shanahan.
Since February 2014, researchers have been collecting data by recording neutrino interactions in the 50-feet tall, 50-feet wide and 200-feet long, 14,000-ton far detector in Ash River, Minnesota. Even while construction was underway, the testing systems were able to gather data, and the detector was constructed in November 2014. The NOvA construction and operations are supported by the DOE Office of Science.
William and Mary associate professor of physics Patricia Vahle said that they make a beam of muon-type neutrinos at Fermilab, and then we detect those at Ash River, Minnesota. The researchers are looking for the muon-type neutrinos to change into electron-type neutrinos, disappear or change into any time of neutrino. The neutrino generated at Fermilab passed through an underground detector, to measure its composition. The beam travels for over 500 miles straight through the Earth oscillating (changing type) along the way.
If oscillations did not occur, scientists expect to see only one electron appearance, but the first experiment saw six such oscillations. This proved that the missing muon neutrinos had turned into electron neutrinos. NOvA co-spokesperson Mark Messier, Indiana University, said that the reason for their progress is the Fermilab neutrino team and accelerator team.
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