Observing muon neutrino to electron neutrino oscillations in the NOvA Experiment

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2016-01-01
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Xin, Tian
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Mayly Sanchez
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Physics and Astronomy
Physics and astronomy are basic natural sciences which attempt to describe and provide an understanding of both our world and our universe. Physics serves as the underpinning of many different disciplines including the other natural sciences and technological areas.
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Neutrino oscillations offers an insight on new physics beyond the Standard Model. The three mixing angles ($\theta_{12}$, $\theta_{13}$ and $\theta_{23}$) and the two mass splittings ($\Delta m^2_{12}$ and $\Delta m^2_{23}$) have been measured by different neutrino oscillation experiments. Some other parameters including the mass ordering of different neutrino mass eigenstates and the CP violation phase are still unknown.

\nova~is a long-baseline accelerator neutrino experiment, using neutrinos from the NuMI beam at Fermilab. The experiment is equipped with two functionally identical detectors about 810 kilometers apart and 14 mrad off the beam axis. In this configuration, the muon neutrinos from the NuMI beam reach the disappearance maximum in the far detector and a small fraction of that oscillates into electron neutrinos.

The sensitivity to the mass ordering and CP violation phase determination is greately enhanced. This thesis presents the \nue appearance analysis using the neutrino data collected with the \nova~experiment between February 2014 and May 2015, which corresponds to 3.45 $\times 10^{20}$ protons-on-target (POT). The $\nu_e$ appearance analysis is performed by comparing the observed \nuecc-like events to the estimated background at the far detector. The total background is predicted to be 0.95 events with 0.89 originated from beam events and 0.06 from cosmic ray events. The beam background is obtained by extrapolating near detector data through different oscillation channels, while the cosmic ray background is calculated based on out-of-time NuMI trigger data. A total of 6 electron neutrino candidates are observed in the end at the far detector which represents 3.3 $\sigma$ excess over the predicted background. The \nova~ result disfavors inverted mass hierarchy for $\delta_{cp} \in [0,0.6\pi]$ at $90 \% $ C.L.

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Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2016