Queen Mary scientists shed light on a mysterious particle

December 15, 2009

Starting from the end of November, Queen Mary's Particle Physics Research Centre is the sole recipient of the T2K experiment data. The T2K Collaboration is a 500-strong alliance of scientists in 12 countries, who have come together to investigate the ghostly neutrino.

Physicist Dr Francesca Di Lodovico said: "Trillions of neutrinos pass through our bodies every second, but you don't notice; they pass through space and the Earth with almost no effect. This makes neutrinos very difficult to study and yet they are thought to play a fundamental role in the formation of the Universe and understanding where we came from."

Neutrinos come from outer space, either shot out from the Sun, or left over from the Big Bang. But despite their abundance, techniques to understand their nature have only been developed in the last few decades, giving surprising results.

"Theories predict there should be three types of neutrinos," Dr Di Lodovico explained. "Unexpectedly, early data seems to suggest that they can change type from one to another, an observation which has profound implications on our understanding of the Universe."

By firing the most intense neutrino beam ever designed, underground from Tokai on the east coast of Japan to a detector on the country's west coast, it is now possible to observe what happens to the particles as they travel through our planet. Do they change type? And if so, why?

Scientists hope that neutrinos could be the key to understanding how the Universe has evolved over time and teach us more about deep-space events like supernovas, active galaxies and gamma-ray bursts. They could even explain one of the biggest mysteries of the universe; why we have lots of 'matter', but only tiny amounts of 'anti-matter'.

Dr Di Lodovico says: "T2K will quickly advance our understanding of the strange properties of the enigmatic neutrino to unprecedented precision. Within a year, we will be able explore neutrino properties beyond the reach of the current experiments and shed light on the unknown."
Queen Mary's world-renowned particle physicists have made a significant contribution to the international experiment. As well as aiding the design and construction of the main detector, several group members are also involved in using the data now being collected to explore the properties of neutrinos, using powerful computers available at the College.

Queen Mary University of London

Related Neutrinos Articles from Brightsurf:

Big answers from tiny particles
A team of physicists led by Kanazawa University demonstrate a theoretical mechanism that would explain the tiny value for the mass of neutrinos and point out that key operators of the mechanism can be probed by current and future experiments.

Physicists cast doubt on neutrino theory
University of Cincinnati physicists, as part of an international research team, are raising doubts about the existence of an exotic subatomic particle that failed to show up in twin experiments.

Exotic neutrinos will be difficult to ferret out
An international team tracking the 'new physics' neutrinos has checked the data of all the relevant experiments associated with neutrino detections against Standard Model extensions proposed by theorists.

Excess neutrinos and missing gamma rays?
A new model points to the coronoe of supermassive black holes at the cores of active galaxies to help explain the excess neutrinos observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.

Where neutrinos come from
Russian astrophysicists have come close to solving the mystery of where high-energy neutrinos come from in space.

Where did the antimatter go? Neutrinos shed promising new light
We live in a world of matter -- because matter overtook antimatter, though they were both created in equal amounts when our universe began.

Strongest evidence yet that neutrinos explain how the universe exists
New data throws more support behind the theory that neutrinos are the reason the universe is dominated by matter.

Why didn't the universe annihilate itself? Neutrinos may hold the answer
New results from an experiment called T2K suggest that physicists are closer than ever before to answering a major mystery: Why didn't the universe annihilate itself in a humungous burst of energy not long after the Big Bang?

T2K insight into the origin of the universe
Lancaster physicists working on the T2K major international experiment in Japan are closing in on the mystery of why there is so much matter in the universe, and so little antimatter.

Radar and ice could help detect an elusive subatomic particle
A new study published today in the journal Physical Review Letters shows, for the first time, an experiment that could detect a class of ultra-high-energy neutrinos using radar echoes.

Read More: Neutrinos News and Neutrinos Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.