About LBNE

Neutrino Research and LBNE

Recently, revolutionary discoveries have shown that while the Standard Model represents a good approximation of nature at the energies of existing accelerators, it is incomplete. A striking development in neutrino physics, thanks to a remarkably broad suite of experiments, is the discovery that the three kinds, or "flavors," of neutrinos, previously thought to be massless, have mass and can oscillate (morph from one kind to another), contrary to the Standard Model.

These properties imply that neutrinos play critical roles across many fields of physics and make neutrinos uniquely suitable as probes for discovering new physics processes. Neutrinos have shown us details of the solar core, provided clues to the mechanism of supernova explosions, and most likely play an important role in the early universe. They may even be responsible for the observed preponderance of matter over antimatter.

By exploring physics beyond the Standard Model, LBNE will address fundamental questions about the universe:

What is the origin of the matter/antimatter asymmetry in the universe?

Immediately after the Big Bang, matter and antimatter were created equally, yet matter now dominates. By studying the properties of neutrino and antineutrino oscillations, LBNE is pursuing the most promising avenue for understanding the matter/antimatter asymmetry of nature.

What are the fundamental underlying symmetries of the universe?

Resolution by LBNE of the detailed mixing patterns and ordering of neutrino mass states, and comparisons to the corresponding phenomena in the quark sector, could reveal fundamental underlying symmetries that are as yet unknown.

Is there a Grand Unified Theory of the universe?

Experimental evidence hints that the physical forces observed today were unified into one force at the birth of the universe. Grand Unified Theories (GUTs), which attempt to describe the unification of forces, predict that protons should decay, a process that has never been observed. LBNE will probe proton lifetimes predicted by a wide range of GUT models.

How do supernovae explode?

The heavy elements that are the key components of life – such as carbon – were created in the super-hot cores of collapsing stars. LBNE is designed to detect the neutrino burst from core-collapse Type II supernovae. By measuring the time structure and energy spectrum of a neutrino burst, LBNE will be able to elucidate critical information about the dynamics of this special astrophysical phenomenon.

What more can neutrinos tell us about the Standard Model?

The high intensity of the LBNE neutrino beam and the high-resolution near detector will provide a unique probe for precision tests of Standard Model processes as well as searches for signatures of uncharted phenomena.

Physicists have learned much over the past decade about building and operating large neutrino detectors and intense neutrino beams. The unique capabilities and accelerator infrastructure at Fermilab together with a potential far detector site 1,300 km away (a distance optimal for oscillation studies at the planned energies) at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD, present an extraordinary opportunity to develop a world-leading program of long-baseline neutrino science. LBNE aims to develop this research complex to measure the parameters that characterize three-flavor neutrino oscillations, study a phenomenon known as CP-violation, which may help explain the matter-antimatter imbalance, and determine the relative neutrino masses.

LBNE's capabilities will extend beyond long-baseline measurements. The experiment's observation of thousands of neutrinos from a core-collapse supernova in the Milky Way would allow us to peer inside a newly-formed neutron star, and potentially witness the birth of a black hole. Predicted rates for nucleon decay based on Grand Unified Theories cover a range directly accessible with the next generation of large underground detectors. LBNE's sensitivity to key decay channels, in particular, will offer unique opportunities for observation of this phenomenon.

Last modified: 02/26/2014 |